The first research projects to emerge from a tie-up between Abbott and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will advance our understanding of the relationship between diet and cognition - and help Abbott create the next generation of brain foods targeting consumers at every life stage - claims the healthcare giant.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA after announcing 13 projects set to receive between $175,000 and $2.5m to probe the effects of diet on the brain, an Abbott spokesperson said:
“Cognition research is one of Abbott’s top global priorities."
“The research collaboration is intended to help uncover relationships between nutrition and cognition, and carry those discoveries to innovative nutritional products across all of our categories including pediatric, adult and performance nutrition.”
In the 2012 funding round, the partners received 46 initial proposals, which were then whittled down to 21 full proposals, 13 of which got the green light.
“While nearly $10m in funding was granted during the first year, Abbott will continue to support research for the next four years at a level driven by the quality of proposals submitted."
The commercial potential was clear, said Abbott: “There is strong consumer interest in the connection between food/nutrition and learning, memory and brain health and thus Abbott began to pursue research in this area.
“Additionally, recent studies reinforce nutrition’s impact on cognition, such as iron’s role in preventing cognitive deficits in childhood and the discovery of lutein as the predominant carotenoid in the infant brain.”
Nutrients of interest include the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, plus Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), flavonoids, and lutein, while target groups include full-term and premature infants, pre-adolescent children, healthy adults, elderly adults, cancer patients and traumatic brain injury patients.
Researchers will also utilize leading-edge brain imaging and supercomputing technologies, added a UIUC spokeswoman.
“We’re looking at research that is really at the cutting edge. The goal is to think big and be forward thinking, to select areas considered to be a grand challenge.”
The 13 projects to be funded in the first round are:
- Nutritional Intake, Cognitive Function and Measures of Brain Aging
- Nutritional Enhancement of Cognition through Stem Cells
- Optimizing Assessment Tools for Determining Nutritional Enhancement of Learning and Memory
- Cognitive and Brain Development in Premature Infants
- Development of a Methodology for Investigating the Effects of Nutrition on the Maturation of Brain Networks Associated with Memory and Language in Infants
- The Effects of a Bioactive Nutrient on Cognitive Functioning in an Animal Model of Normal Aging
- Molecular Basis of Cognitive Impairment in “ChemoBrain” and Nutritional Intervention
- The Effects of Fortified Nutritional Supplementation on Cognition, Memory, and Achievement
- Synergistic Effects of Exercise and Nutrition on Cognition and Brain Health of Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Probing the Effect of Brain Metabolism on Cognitive Function
- Mouse Cognition Core Facility
- Nutritional Regulation of Human Neuronal Development
- Enhancing Learning and Memory in the Aged: Interactions Between Dietary Supplementation and Exercise
Cognition is one of six areas of focus for new product development at Abbott
Abbott, which generated double-digit growth in its nutritionals division in the first quarter of 2012, said its focus for new product development is on six areas: Cognition, immunity, lean body mass, inflammation, metabolism, and tolerance.
Abbott's nutrition division – based in Columbus, Ohio - is expected to boost sales from $6bn in 2011 to more than $9bn by 2015.
Click here for more details about the collaboration with UIUC.