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Provexis extracts cause stir

Provexis is drawing closer to the commercialisation of many of its functional food ingredients, chief executive Stephen Moon told Food Manufacture.

The company’s work with the Institute of Food Research (IFR), near Norwich, to extract high levels of isothiocyanates, which combat inflammation, from rocket and broccoli, had led to “large scale commercial collaboration”, said Moon.

Efforts had been “targeted initially at cardiovascular inflammation”, however he added: “There are longer term opportunities for the reduction of breast and prostate cancer.” Work is continuing to isolate commercial extracts for those purposes.

Clinical nutrition trend

“Initially we have been looking at the dietary supplement market, but we are developing an extract for a format which can be used for functional foods,” said Moon. “We may go into a medical foods format in the form of beverages or shakes.” Small-scale human trials have already been conducted, with a larger scale human trial planned for later this year.

There was a growing trend towards clinical nutrition, or creating food specifically aimed at treating certain ailments, said Moon. “There’s a blurring of the line between functional foods and clinical nutrition, driven by companies such as Nestlé and Danone, although we are still seeing global and national manufacturers show a continued interest in functional foods.”

Aberdeen-based Provexis is also part-way through work with Liverpool University on non-starch polysaccharides that could help keep Crohn’s Disease in remission. “We are looking at the preliminary data this summer,” said Moon.

Aggressive acquisition strategy

Provexis continues to work on its Fruitflow anti-thrombotic tomato ingredient, which was one of the first to receive an approved health claim from the European Food Safety Authority under EU health claims regulation [‘helps maintain normal platelet aggregation’].

Ingredients giant DSM, which struck a commercial deal for exclusive licence to market Fruitflow in June last year, was targeting the dietary supplement market and functional foods sectors such as beverages and shots, said Moon.

He added that Provexis, which is a venture capital-backed spin-out from the Rowett Research Institute of Nutrition and Health, was maintaining an aggressive acquisition strategy. “We’ve said we’re in the market for acquisitions and we have spent the past few months looking at several hundred technology companies.”