The latest patent follows in the wake of the use of the MicroActive technology to other ingredients with bioavailability or absorption challenges, such as curcumin and resveratrol. And it follows the path taken by some other dietary supplement and functional food ingredient companies by developing technologies that can be patented in a sphere in which most base ingredients themselves cannot.
Benefits beyond exclusivity
Defending patents against infringers can be a challenge, said Dan Kagan, PhD, managing partner and co-founder of BioActives . But obtaining a patent can have benefits that go beyond putative market exclusivity. It can be a powerful marketing tool, he said.
“First of all, you have something that makes marketing people feel as if it’s exclusive,” Kagan told NutraIngredients-USA.
“And what you are doing has uniqueness and exclusivity or else they wouldn’t have issued the patent. If an examiner says that this useful and unique, it’s like an independent opinion.
“The second reason you would do it is you would want a purchasing agent to feel comfortable that you are not infringing on someone else’s patent,” he said.
The first goal of developing a new ingredient technology wouldn’t necessarily be to get a patent, Kagan said. The purpose would be to build a better ingredient, which he says the MicroActive technology accomplishes.
Policosanol is an ingredient derived from waxy fractions of sugarcane and some other plants. Some evidence indicates the ingredient can have cholesterol and blood circulation benefits. But in its root form the ingredient, which is not water dispersible, has bioavailability challenges.
This is where the MicroActive technology helps, Kagan said. The techonolgy first micronizes the ingredient, to increase surface area and thus boost absorption. But it also encapsulates the ingredient in a tailor-made matrix to boose bioavailability once particles have crossed the intestinal barrier. In the case of fat soluble ingredients, the technology allows for quicker transit. But the approach can also be tailored to retard the absorption of water soluable ingredients to increase the half-life of certain substances, Kagan said.
Smoothing out the variations
“What’s unique about our product is that we have looked at intersubject or interpersonal variations. We are trying to do is to make everyone is going to absorb the ingredient,” Kagan said.
Kagan said pharmaceuticals must be formulated in such a way to take these variations into account, and it is part of their approval process. A doctor needs to know that when prescribing an antiobiotic, for instance, that the vast majority of patients will absorb an effective dose at a given amount of the drug.
“In nutritional supplements the swings between people can be gigantic. One person might say, this worked great for me and another person will say it didn’t work at all. In that case, the person might not have absorbed any of the ingredient,” Kagan said.
“What we have done is to apply pharmaceutical technology to supplement ingredients,” he said.