Evgen has gained “worldwide and exclusive” rights to market the extracts that are being researched by the University of Copenhagen’s Dr Barbara Ann Halkier, and which may have a role to play in the prevention of diseases such as prostate cancer.
Dr Halkier last year won an award valued at more than €30,000 from fellow Danish supplier, Danisco, for her work in the area of bioactive natural substances, based around broccoli and other plants such as tobacco.
Evgen chief executive officer, Dr Stephen Franklin, estimated three years before the extract found its way into products with food supplements the most likely candidates – as well as medicines.
It is hoped within that time-frame that large scale manufacture of the “purified bioactive molecules” will be possible.
“We could develop a branded line of supplements in the men’s health area or we could brand the ingredient and sell it on to food supplements and functional food makers,” Dr Franklin told NutraIngredients.com.
“People might associate this kind of extract with antioxidants but it is much more specific than that – research indicates this extract operates in specific bioactive pathways.”
The bioactives in question areglucosinolates, one of about 30 families of compounds found in cruciferous plants like broccoli, and which Dr Halkier has been working at extracting from cruciferous vegetables using fermentation technology.
The University of Copenhagen Technology Transfer Unit’s commercial officer, Dr Robert Terry, said the evidence was building behind the compounds in question, and better trials were likely in the future.
“There is strong scientific evidence to suggest that consumption of broccoli or administration of certain glucosinolates can provide protection against some types of cancer,” he said.
“This development, if successful, will mean that for the first time we will have purified, quality controlled products for entry into human trials – and ultimately this will give rise to new a new generation of products with health benefits that people can trust”.
Other research indicates eating cruciferous can benefit the lungs, heart, diabetes sufferers, the bladder and immunity.
The American Cancer Society says people should eat one serving of cruciferous vegetables per day, but most people consume only one serving per week, in the US at least.
The University of Copenhagen link-up is the first major licensing agreement Evgen has signed since its formation last year. Dr Franklin said several other projects were in the pipeline with weight management, cognition, mood/anxiety, sleep and inflammation of particular interest.
Evgen said its “value capture” lay in the fact it did not seek to develop and then license ingredients to existing food industry players, but to guide ingredients all the way to market as new fully-fledged brands.
Evgen is owned by UK companies Imprimatur Capital and Enterprise Ventures. Dr Franklin was previously involved with another UK company, Provexis, which launched a tomato extract-fortified juice range called Sirco in early 2006.