DSM puts money into nutrigenomics firm

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Related tags: Free radicals, Nutrition, Dsm

DSM Venturing will invest in the Connecticut, US based company
Sciona - an important player in the growing nutrigenomics field.

Sciona - which focuses on nutrition, skincare and sports and fitness - develops genetic tests that can help individuals make nutritional and lifestyle choices matched to their genetic profiles. These products also open up the opportunity for manufacturers to personalise their products.

The company's leading product - NutritionScreen, co-branded as BodyBenefits or Cellf - provides an nutritional advice based upon an individual's genetic information and his or her lifestyle.

DSM's​ aim is to become the world leader in nutritional products and hope that Sciona's activities may contribute to the realisation of that ambition.

"The human nutrition market sees a demand increase driven by health awareness, preventive treatment and the ageing population,"​ said Jan Zuidam, vice-chairman of DSM's managing board. "The rapidly progressing science of nutrigenomics is not only used to develop new nutrients and understand how they work in the human body, but is also expected to open ways for 'personalised nutrition'.This field fits perfectly with our ambition in the field of life sciences innovation."

Sciona's​ CEO Chris Martin added that the fact a "world leading food ingredient company like DSM"​ has decided to invest in his company "shows the strong belief of the industry in the future of nutrigenomics"​.

This is the tenth direct investment of DSM Venturing, whose mission is "to explore emerging markets and technologies"​ to enhace DSM's product portfolio.

Researchers working for DSM Nutritional Products​ (DNP) recently used nutrigenomics to discover that dietary vitamin E significantly stimulates the hepatic (liver) production of glutathione, which is the body's major line of defence against free radicals and potentially harmful agents and metabolites.

Free radicals and metabolites are produced continuously in the human body, as - for example - a consequence of normal metabolic processes and a result of physical activities, diseases, smoking, alcohol consumption and from the exposure to environmental pollution and UV-light. They are also negatively involved in the aging process.

If these free radicals are not inactivated they can damage the body. Glutathion, which is produced in the liver, protects the body by neutralizing these aggressive agents.

In the DNP study, rats were fed a diet supplemented with or without vitamin E for nine months. Using nutrigenomics, that enable scientists to monitor the activity of thousands of genes, scientists revealed, among other things, that vitamin E stimulates the activity of two key enzymes - glutamyl-cysteinyl-synthase and glutathione synthetase - both important for the production of gluthatione, the body's defense system.

Further analysis of the glutathione concentration in the liver confirmed that animals supplemented with vitamin E had significantly enhanced production of glutathione - thereby increasing the body's major line of defense against toxic substances.

These results reveal that the well recognized antioxidant and protective activities of vitamin E are not only dependent on its own chemical properties but also on its ability to enhance the body's own antioxidant network by glutathione synthesis. In addition this study illustrates the importance of vitamin E for the correct functioning of the liver.

This study was published in the BBA Molecular Basis of Disease​ (05/04).

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