Nutrigenomics researcher WellGen has been awarded a patent for its black tea extract for the prevention of disease, and plans to market the ingredient as a dietary supplement for supporting joint health.
The New Jersey-based biotechnology company screens the effect of food substances on gene expression associated with human health conditions. US Patent No.7,238,376, "Black tea extract for prevention of disease" covers the uses of the company's ingredient WG0401 for arthritis, inflammation and cancer.
The company is counting on the patent to add value to its marketing efforts for WG0401 as a functional food ingredient aimed at promoting joint health, in addition to anti-aging and immune-defense support as well as contributing to cardiovascular health.
The emerging field of nutrigenomics looks at how food bioactives can modulate gene expression in humans and potentially ward off particular diseases or conditions.
"We believe WG0401 is the first nutrigenomics-developed ingredient to be commercialized for consumer application," said WellGen CEO, Dr. Kathleen Mullinix.
WellGen said it has secured a contract for the large-scale manufacture of WG0401. The company is currently finalizing a distribution agreement with Charles Bowman and Company, a supplier of nutrition ingredients.
According to the company, a recently completed double-blind randomized human study using the proprietary ingredient, WG0401, resulted in a two- to six-fold reduction in markers for inflammation when healthy volunteers were given an inflammation-inducing bacterial lipopolysaccharide.
Chronic inflammation, brought about by an over-expression or lack of control of the normal protective mechanism, can lead to a range of inflammatory related disease, particularly cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death worldwide.
WellGen's black tea ingredient is also currently in human studies for turning off a number of genes involved in inflammation and its orange peel ingredient is being tested in non-human clinical trials for its potential to support weight control.
The company was spun off from Rutgers University in 1997 and in 1999 CEO Dr David Evans became the first employee. Dr Mullinix succeeded Dr David Evans, who passed away in 2006.
WellGen recently moved into new headquarters and operating facilities in North Brunswick, NJ.
"Our new, larger home will be an important asset as we make the transition into a major new stage of our company's development," said Dr. Mullinix.