Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA.com as part of our special edition on inflammation, F&S research analyst Cecilia Van Cauwenberghe said: "There is definitely a market niche for anti-inflammatory products, particularly those based on novel technology platforms.
“There is increasing attention on the association of a variety of diseases with chronic inflammatory processes. And novel approaches to treatment and prevention need to be presented as the result of a new concept of medicine based on genomics, also enabling the projection toward personalized medicine.”
Inflammatory process and gene expression
One company adopting this approach was life sciences firm WellGen, which claims to “target the inflammatory cascade through modulation of multiple genes through nutrigenomics”, Van Cauwenberghe said.
Wellgen has developed a screening platform enabling it to evaluate the impact of natural extracts on the inflammatory process and gene expression.
The first human clinical trial of its theaflavin-enriched black tea extract showed a reduction in the expression of pro-inflammatory mRNA and cytokines/chemokines proteins, a reduction in inflammatory biomarker levels and a rise in the anti-inflammatory immuno-modulatory cytokine IL-10, noted Van Cauwenberghe.
Later trials testing the effects of the extract on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), oxidative stress and cortisol response in subjects doing high intensity anaerobic exercise also showed promising results, she said.
Cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation
Meanwhile, “novel and more personalized therapies based on nutrigenomic and metabolomic approaches” to cardiovascular disease and its relationship to chronic inflammation also had potential, she said.
Examples of products exploiting an understanding of nutrigentics (how a person's genetic make-up affects a response to diet) already on the market included the Nutrilite IL-1 heart health supplement, which was formulated to address the nutritional needs of individuals with an over expression of the IL-1 gene, she said.
Supplementation with Nutrilite IL-1 led to a 20% reduction in C-Reactive Protein, a biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk, in almost half (45 percent) of individuals testing positive for IL-1, according to Nutrilite.
Finally, scientists were devoting increasing resources to detecting biomarkers for deviations from healthy metabolism in young children and then attempting to compensate “by applying nutrigenomic and metabolomic technologies”, she added.
And this created opportunities for industry: “There is growing evidence that nutrition during early life can program the development of diseases later in life. Such a discovery is well-known as ‘metabolic programming or imprinting’ and reveals the importance of optimal nutrition during early stages of life.”
But will consumers get it?
As to whether consumers grasped the concept of chronic inflammation and the need to tackle it through nutrigenomics or anything else, it would all depend on how the next generation of dietary supplements or medical foods were marketed, said EuroPharma’s chief of scientific affairs and education Cheryl Myers.
In reality, many consumers buying anti-inflammatories were trying to tackle chronic pain, rather than address an underlying problem they didn’t even know they had, she added.
“I think people buy products claiming to target inflammation because they are in pain. If they work, they buy them again. I am not sure they know or necessarily care precisely how they work.”