The patent (US 7,351,746 B2) is based on research conducted on phytoene and phytofluene, which are carotenoids found in natural tomato extract.
According to the company’s vice president of new product development and scientific affairs, Dr Zohar Nir, this research has demonstrated phytoene and phytofluene block the progression of atherosclerosis by inhibiting the deposition of plaque from oxidized LDL-cholesterol.
This effect was demonstrated through in vitro tests on the two compounds alone, together, and in combination with other natural tomato extract carotenoids, he said.
Dr Nir explained that although the patent was “significant” in protecting the company’s intellectual property, this particular sector of heart health is not one that the company will focus on for the time being.
The patent had been filed several years ago, he explained, and the company has since published research demonstrating the blood pressure-lowering effects of its branded lycopene ingredient, Lyc-O-Mato. This has now become the major area of focus for the firm.
“The general cardiovascular disease area in dietary supplements is very crowded. So when we found that our product lowered blood pressure we jumped on it and we’re doing a lot of studies,” Dr Nir told NutraIngredients-USA.com this morning.
He said the firm is working toward receiving botanical drug status for its product. This, he explained, would be “an official endorsement from FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration) of the efficacy of the product”, and would help promote the product’s success in the dietary supplement and functional food fields.
Dr Nir estimates that it will take “another year or two” to achieve this status.
LycoRed’s tomato extract contains a mix of potent antioxidants including lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin E and various other phytonutrients. Lycopene is said to be the most efficient antioxidant among the natural carotenoids.
Lyc-O-Mato’s blood pressure benefits were documented in 2006, with the publication of a study in the American Heart Journal (Vol. 151, No. 1, pp. 100.e6-100.e1).
Researchers from the University of the Negev in Israel found that a daily intake of Lyc-O-Mato was linked to a drop in systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of ten and four points after eight weeks of supplementation of a normal diet.
"Reduction in BP from grade-1 hypertension to high-normal range, such as achieved in our pilot study, is clinically significant," wrote lead-author Dr Yechiel Engelhard.
Moderate, or Grade-1, hypertension is defined as a having SBP between 140 and 159 mmHg, a DBP between 90 and 99 mmHg, or both. The volunteers studied were not taking antihypertensive medication.
"Our assumption is that the reduction in BP observed in the study was due to antioxidant activity of the tomato extract," said Engelhard.
For more information on this study, see the NutraIngredients article published here.