The two companies have been working together since March, when they signed an initial 12-month exclusivity agreement to develop a second generation of Provexis' tomato-based Fruitflow technology, aimed at anti-platelet aggregation. The upshot of this collaboration was a pilot-scale version of a new version of the bioactive, said to be 35 per cent more concentrated than the original syrup, which was designed for juice drinks. This is said to have yielded positive results in a human trial. Under the new agreement the companies will look to apply this technology in vegetable-based fat spreads. To allow this to happen, Unilever is to transfer some manufacturing assets to Provexis. The ingredient is based on compounds contained in the clear fraction of tomatoes that inhibit blood platelet aggregation, thereby smoothing blood flow and helping to maintain healthy circulation and heart. Provexis had previously proven the original technology in its Sirco juice product, which it brought to market in the UK. It stopped manufacturing Sirco this summer, however, as it decided to focus its energies on working with partners rather than building its own brand. It makes considerable sense for Unilever to be considering Fruitflow for its spreads portfolio, since it has already established a presence in such products aimed at heart health - for example, its Flora Pro Activ margarine for cholesterol management. Rights for other product catefories including fruit juice drinks, products marketed for DVT, OTC medicines, medical foods, dietary supplements, and prescribed medicinal products, rest with Provexis. However last month rumours were circulating that a deal is on the cards between Provexis and Coca Cola for use of the technology in beverages. The soft drinks giant has already made several forays into functional drinks. Leatherhead Foods predicted last year that sales of heart health foods will rise by about 60 per cent over the 2004-2009 period to reach $5.7bn by 2009.