Kraft Foods Global Thinks Outside the Box with Bioactive Ingredients
Kraft hires a pharmaceutical company to help it develop functional foods.
By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor | 02/18/2009
“We’ve learned that eating over a lifetime has cumulative effects. On the back end, you go from disease intervention with prescription drugs, and on the front end you have health maintenance and prevention. It’s nice to now have an end-to-end view, which is what this technology platform allows you to do. “Many pharmaceutical compounds have their roots in nature, says Land. “Nature is still the most prolific chemist on the planet.”
Medisyn’s core capability
Currently, Medisyn Technologies Inc., founded in 1999, fully owned this technology at the end of 2004, allowing commercialization to kick in. The company is engaged in more than 30 related research projects, 12 in nutraceuticals, and has worked with leading institutions including Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Dept. of Defense and Invitrogen.
Medisyn’s core capability is to discover novel bioactive compounds. It’s a platform technology and because of that, it can be broadly applied. “That’s why we worked initially in pharmaceuticals, then in nutraceuticals, animal health and even in the aggregate that surrounds protecting crops – herbicides and pesticides – really the life sciences,” explains Land. “We started on the pharmaceutical side because it has some of the greatest needs for deeper research, so from a business perspective it was a logical place to start. Initially focused on treating cancer, Medisyn is currently completing pre-clinical validation of MT103, a promising lead candidate for non-small cell lung cancer, and has an additional 26 anti-cancer compounds in varying stages of development.
Land explains his process is not the standard process used to make nutraceuticals. “Typically, you are dealing with extracts from some other natural source, some other biomass source, and try to analyze what that extract does. That extract has all kinds of compounds. When you are buying something in a food store, whether it’s a supplement or food ingredient that’s been added, it’s usually an extract from a natural source.”
Instead, Medisyn helps in identifying the natural biomass source and can help in characterizing the extract, says Land. “We know that an extract from a natural source will contain multiple individual types of compounds from different chemical families. The great thing about nature is it has the potential for synergy in these extracts. Let’s say there are 30 different compounds – that’s not unusual – and those 30 are known chemical compositions. We can then evaluate which of those 30 compounds is contributing to the bioactivity.”
All of the work Medisyn is doing to come up with that bioactive mathematical template in the first place is based on worldwide research. “We use all the databases out there which correlate chemical compounds with properties,” says Land. “We are learning from the research in pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and animal health fields – anyplace the research is being done in which chemical compounds and related bioactive properties have been identified. We are taking all the knowledge from pharmaceutical R&D, and leveraging that to reapply in the natural compound space.”
Asked if these products will be considered nutraceuticals, Land points out that nutraceuticals is a very general broad term. “It applies to a compound from natural sources,” he says. “They could be developed into pharmaceuticals or animal health implications. We are focused on the food chain. If these compounds have already been consumed, then they will be generally recognized as safe (GRAS), the key to regulatory approval. If we move outside those known, the regulatory process will take longer. We’ll have to go through preclinical and clinical trials to validate safety.”
“Kraft has been great to work with, everywhere from their executive staff and Todd Abraham through their scientific team,” says Land. “I’m so impressed with the caliber of their team and scientific knowledge and level of their interest. It’s even been a delight to work with their legal staff. I’ve worked with many Fortune 500 companies, and Kraft has been very impressive,” he says enthusiastically.