NIZO, Royal FrieslandCampina and NutriLeads will team up in the Challenge consortium, which will utilise NIZO’s Human Challenge Model (HCM) studies to reduce time required to substantiate health claims of new product and ingredients.
The 'Challenge' consortium aims to link HCM - a unique approach that monitors the effects of immune response to a common pathogen - to preclinical data findings. This will identify which tests are good predictors of effects in humans, thereby accelerating the step between preclinical studies and human trials.
“The ultimate goal is to shorten time to market and decrease investments required to substantiate health benefits by improving the predictive power of in-vitro testing and execute human trials in an effective and efficient way using HCM’s," said NIZO.
Nel Zoon, Business Manager, Consortia at NIZO, told us the consortium is based on a mutual benefit, and was initiated after NIZO noticed that many companies it works with want to substantiate the benefits of their ingredient and foods, while NIZO itself wanted to further develop its testing models, including HCM, for the substantiation of health effects.
Explaining the activities of the individual partners, Zoon said, “NutriLeads and FrieslandCampina are developing food ingredients/food products for which they have preclinical data and that they now want to test in a relevant human challenge model for resistance to infections. NIZO has developed HCM’s. NIZO will test the ingredients/foods of NutriLeads and FrieslandCampina in the HCM’s”
Ruud Albers, CEO of start-up company NutriLeads emphasised the importance of Challenge to development of their flagship product, Immune Modulating Plant Polysaccharide-1 (IMPP-1) which is designed to support immune function and promote resistance to colds and flu.
“NutriLeads strongly believes in the Human Challenge Model concept. The CHALLENGE consortium is a logical next step in substantiating the immune supportive effect of our lead ingredient, a novel Immune Modulating Plant Polysaccharide”, Albers suggested.
Marjolijn Bragt, research leader at FrieslandCampina said the power of the new consortium lies in its ability to evaluate “translational biomarkers for infants and children,”
NIZO and NutriLeads are also partners in the Eurostars consortium, which is involved in scaling up IMPP-1 production to pilot-plant level.
Improved animal welfare is another big aspiration of Challenge, which aims to make animal studies redundant. This is consistent with many food companies’ strategy of discontinuing animal testing.
Progress & financing
Initial project activities include defining a detailed mechanism of action for the E.coli HCM, which may help identify effective ingredients to protect against such infections. Obtaining ethical approval for HCM studies and subsequent execution of such trials, are among next steps.
“By strategically working together NIZO, NutriLeads and FrieslandCampina use their complementary knowledge, expertise and market positions to speed up their innovation and grow their businesses faster,” concludes Zoon.
The project budget of €3.7 million and benefits from a 40% from the EU and EFRO Op-Oost. Challenge expect first results later in 2017, with profitability forecast for 2019.
The partners are responsible for their own costs and risk. NIZO, the project coordinators, will hold the intellectual property rights for the HSM’s while the other two partners will retain IP on their ingredients and products.