The Irish biotech, which reported a 10 per cent year-on-year sales increase in Q3 to €5.5m, has been talking with ten different partners throughout this year, covering different geographies and areas of the functional foods market.
The Q3 results announcement stated that "commercialisation discussions continue to advance and we anticipate announcing our strategy to enter into the functional foods marketplace by year end."
While no formal indications have been given as to what the strategy may entail, in September Alltracel signalled that it is seeking partners and acquisitions Chief marketing officer Noel Toolan told NutraIngredients.com said that this could "absolutely" include teaming up with plant sterol or omega-3 suppliers - but it is not clear whether this possibility forms the core of the strategy, or is regarded as an adjunct to it.
The LDL cholesterol-lowering potential of the bioactive in combination with plant stanols and statin drugs has been studied over the past year, with positive results in both cases. Results of a third trial involving combination with omega-3 have yet to be announced.
Used alone, the bioactive has also been seen to reduce blood glucose levels and help prevent arterial plaque build-up.
Since the bioactive is yet to be commercialised, Alltracel's revenues currently stem from its m.doc wound care products, based on the same technology. Toolan said that two thirds of the R&D spend is presently devoted to functional foods.
Leatherhead International estimated the global functional foods market to be worth US$16.1 bn in 2005, with growth of 9.5 per cent anticipated in the current year. In a separate report it also valued the market for heart health products at $3.6 billion market in 2004, with expected sales growth of nearly 60 per cent over the 2004-2009 to reach around $5.7 billion by 2009.
It is not yet clear whether patients would be encouraged to use both the statin combination and food approaches, but in market terms the company is not looking at as an either/or.
"It is not illogical to have the technology present in both drugs and non-drugs," said Toolan earlier this year. "Pharmaceutical companies are looking for better and safer cures, and the food drive fits in with the shift towards healthy eating."