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Cargill, TSI amend pact on vegan glucosamine IP

By Hank Schultz , 04-Dec-2012
Last updated the 04-Dec-2012 at 15:47 GMT

Cargill and TSI Group have amended an agreement on the intellectual property surrounding Cargill’s patented technology for producing vegan glucosamine.

TSI Group and its US arm, TSI Group USA, does not acknowledge any liability to Cargill, the company said, but does agree the patents are valid and enforceable.

Cargill obtained the first of the two patents in September, 2010 and the second in October, 2011. Cargill’s technology allows the extraction of glucosamine from a variety of fungal biomass feedstocks that contain chitin. Most glucosamine is derived from shellfish.

Import vs. US-made

Cargill’s ingredient is branded as Regenasure and is produced at its Eddyville, IA plant.  The ingredient has GRAS status.

“The amended license agreement will permit TSI Group Ltd. to import and sell agreed quantities of non-shellfish glucosamine in the US and Canada, subject to other terms and conditions of the agreements,” said Joe Zhou, TSI Group Ltd. co-founding partner and CEO.

According to Zhou, outside the U.S. and Canada, TSI Group Ltd. has the right to sell non-shellfish glucosamine without time or volume limitations with the exception of Cargill’s Brazilian patent application, to which all parties have reserved their rights. Other terms of the parties’ agreements remain confidential.

“The amended licensing agreement will provide both companies the opportunity to grow and support the vegetarian glucosamine market on a global basis,” said Zhou.

“It also provides the basis for acknowledging and supporting Cargill’s intellectual property,” Zhou added.

Glucosamine as prevention

A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in 2010 concluded: "Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.”

However, OARSI (OsteoArthritis Research Society International) says that some people with osteoarthritis of the knee may get symptomatic relief from glucosamine and chondroitin, said Dr Kristine Clark, director of sports nutrition at Penn State University. “But there is not a lot of evidence it benefits other joints beyond the knee.”

But these studies were all looking at patients experiencing joint pain or loss of mobility, she said.

 “Now we think it might be better to consume glucosamine before you have symptoms, while the superficial zone is undisturbed.”

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