InsuVital, which was introduced several months ago in Europe, is a hydrolyzed protein derived from casein, which DSM is positioning as a natural ingredient to help control blood sugar levels after meals. Although the firm is not directly marketing its ingredient for diabetics, senior marketing manager of new business development Peter Willis said InsuVital is suitable for "people who want to maintain healthy blood glucose levels". Composition and action InsuVital is an "extensively hydrolyzed" casein that consists of bioactive peptides. It is said to stimulate insulin secretion and improve glucose disposal, resulting in a "healthy reduction" in post-meal glucose levels and improved blood sugar maintenance. Post-meal blood glucose levels can be reduced by up to 15 percent with the ingredient, said the company. According to DSM, the ingredient is the first product globally with strong clinical evidence to support its function to help maintain blood glucose levels. It claims to be faster in increasing insulin release after eating than an intact protein, and has faster stomach passage and faster digestion and absorption. Willis told NutraIngredients-USA.com that there are four published human clinical trials supporting the ingredient, as well as a fifth as yet unpublished human clinical trial. NutraIngredients-USA.com has not seen any of these studies. Market At the time of the ingredient's European launch, DSM business manager for metabolic syndrome and diabetes Erik Lommerde told NutraIngredients.com that the market is ready for food ingredients to help in cutting down the effects of type-2 diabetes. "Right now everybody seems to be calling for a food ingredient, something less 'threatening' than a pharmaceutical," he said. "At the moment when people are first diagnosed with type-2 diabetes they are put onto a diet to control it. The success rate is less than 10 per cent. All that is available for the diet is light and low, things that are low in sugar." DSM's ingredient is aimed at filling that gap in the market, according to Lommerde, who added that other companies could soon follow and look to develop ingredients that manage glucose levels after eating. Diabetes The market for functional foods that can help address diabetes is heating up in the US, as consumers increasingly turn to diet and 'natural' ways of addressing their health. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the incidence of diabetes has already increased by one-third during the 1990s, due to the prevalence of obesity and an ageing population. There are currently more than 194 million people with diabetes worldwide but if nothing is done to slow the epidemic, the number is expected to exceed 333 million by 2025. Diabetes is also having a massive effect on healthcare budgets. Currently, five to 10 per cent of the world's healthcare budget is spent on diabetes, and by 2025 this figure could reach 40 per cent in some countries if predictions of diabetes prevalence are fulfilled. Most of the economic costs of diabetes are attributable to the various complications linked to it, with up to two-thirds of people with diabetes in certain countries developing serious chronic complications. DSM, which formally launched InsuVital in the US at Expo West in Anaheim, Claifornia, last month, said the ingredient may slow down the onset and progress of pre-diabetes, estimated to affect 54 million Americans (American Diabetes Association, 2008).