Provexis and IFR in heart health collaboration

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Provexis has partnered with the Institute of Food Research (IFR) to develop products tackling cardiovascular inflammation using a compound that gives some vegetables their distinctive mustard taste.

As part of the long-term research and development collaboration agreement, Provexis said it has been granted exclusive access to “potentially high-value”​ intellectual property related to the treatment and reduction of systemic inflammation.

The work will focus on isothiocyanates, which are natural occurring compounds found in broccoli and watercress, among other vegetables.

Stephen Moon, CEO of Provexis, described the partnership as a further step in the continued expansion of the company and its product pipeline.

He added: “The initial work to develop a cardiovascular claim and product complements our already recognised expertise in the heart health arena and in the longer term we feel we are ideally positioned to develop technologies that work to reduce the risk of some major cancers.”

Provexis became the first company to win an approval for a European Union article 13.5 emerging and proprietary science health claim for its Fruitflow, blood circulation-benefitting tomato extract.

The company, which discovers, develops and licenses scientifically-proven functional food, medical food and dietary supplement technologies, has worked with the IFR in the past.

But Steve Morrison, Provexis chief operating officer, told Nutraingredients.com that the collaboration agreement was “the first formal contract”​ with IFR to co-develop work such as this jointly.

He said that isothiocyanates give the pungent mustard flavour to watercress and broccoli and in things like rocket salad.

For a number of years research around isothiocyanates has most commonly been associated with their effects on cancer. However, Morrison said that the scope of the work with IFR will “look beyond their role in cancer”​.

The agreement is with the IFR and its technology transfer company, Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL).

Initially the focus will be on developing commercial products targeting the reduction of cardiovascular inflammation, with a longer-term objective to develop technologies designed to mitigate the risk of certain major cancers.

But Morrison said that it was too early in the research stage to say what the best end use would be, whether functional food or medical food.

Professor Richard Mithen, of IFR, has over 20 years developed a body of work in the area of isothiocyanates for the reduction of risk of certain major cancers.

More recent work, some in collaboration with Provexis, discovered a broader effect in other areas of systemic inflammation, including cardiovascular inflammation. As a result patents for a novel extract were filed jointly by Provexis, IFR and PBL in 2008.

The collaboration gives Provexis “a broad range of exclusive rights”​ to the background and joint intellectual property.

Together they plan to develop the science, with major areas including clinical trials, extract development, further IP development, regulatory clearances and commercialisation.

The first phase of the project gives Provexis the exclusive option to license the technology from IFR and PBL and if successful, Provexis intends to fully in-license the technology rights.

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