Nestlé invests in mitochondrial health ingredient
- Nestlé Health Science is partnering with Switzerland-based science company Amazentis and is taking an equity stake in return for global rights to use the company's patented Urolithin A technology in foods and beverages, dietary supplements and medical nutrition products.
- The company described Urolithin A as a metabolite that is naturally produced when consuming foods similar to pomegranate. Urolithin A is the first natural bioactive to boost function through clearing aging and damaged mitochondria from cells.
- The substance recently received GRAS — generally recognized as safe — designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Financial details were not disclosed, but Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science, said in a release that the "partnership will include a significant investment to support further research and development of Urolithin A."
Nestlé Health Science has invested in other functional foods and beverages designed to fight chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, so this latest news isn't surprising for the world's largest food company. Additionally, Patrick Aebischer, one of Amazentis' founders, is on Nestlé's board of directors, so relationships are already in place to pave the way for cooperative work.
It also makes sense that Nestlé would want to invest in this particular technology since the marketing potential of nutrients to counteract cell aging is likely to explode as larger segments of the global population get older. According to the U.S. Census, people 65 and older will soon make up the largest single age group in the country, and will maintain that status for years.
"This partnership will enable us to make this breakthrough more widely available and will support consumers in the proactive management of their cellular health," Chris Rinsch, co-founder and CEO of Amazentis, said in the release.
Other nutrition applications from Nestlé Health Science target inherited metabolic disorders. Its Vitaflo line of medical food products is designed for consumers with several conditions, including phenylketonuria, which requires a low-protein diet, and maple syrup urine disease, in which the body is unable to process certain proteins.
Nestlé Health Science has much to gain if it's able to adapt Amazentis' patented Urolithin A technology for use in foods and beverages. The company said part of its mission is to develop scientific methods to improve health through nutrition.
Nestlé could potentially use Urolithin A technology to bolster some of its food and beverage products with cell-building ingredients and accompanying claims. That could appeal to the growing number of consumers looking to add such functional properties to their diets. Additional science-based information could be included since Nestlé said Amazentis is currently evaluating Urolithin A and is in the second phase of two clinical trials.
It's possible more foods and beverages designed to bolster mitochondrial function will emerge as information is shared about why they're important. According to World's Healthiest Foods, maintaining the mitochondria's structural integrity helps to make sure muscles, heart and brain have enough energy to function properly. If they don't, unhealthy aging and fatigue can result.
Other results of mitochondrial dysfunction include congestive heart failure, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Consumers who are aware of the risks are likely to pay close attention to any products launched to help out.