Will biotechnologists soon be producing yoghurt for knee joint arthrosis?
24.11.2006 Will biotechnologists soon be producing yoghurt for knee joint arthrosis?
The two life science companies Anoxymer GmbH and BioTeSys GmbH are looking to work together closely in the future. The long-term collaboration will be based on significant crossover between individual fields of activity at the two companies. "Anoxymer – a supplier of dietary supplements, functional food ingredients and cosmetics – and BioTeSys – an analysis service provider that conducts contract testing of active components using an extensive range of procedures – combine to produce powerful synergies," says Dr. Jürgen Bernhardt, CEO of BioTeSys GmbH. "The excellent starting point for our collaboration has been boosted by the fact that we have already worked with the same customers previously, albeit providing them with different services."
The collaboration agreement was concluded in July 2006, only half a year after Anoxymer GmbH moved to the STERN BioRegion. "The prospective collaboration with various companies was one of the reasons why we chose the Life Science Centre in Esslingen as our new company base," says Wolfgang Neldner, one of the two managing directors of Anoxymer GmbH. He adds that the collaboration is motivated by both scientific and sales arguments. "BioTeSys performs the chemico-analytical functions as our own technical options are limited. This analysis service enables us to offer our customers a complete package – from the product idea to quality management for the functionalised product."Together, the two companies will be much more powerful than they would be working alone.
Functionalised dietary supplements and ingredients for health prevention are becoming increasingly important on the back of alarming statistics on the increase of widespread diseases resulting from poor dietary habits and lack of exercise. "By the end of 2009, one in five foods will offer an additional functional benefit," says Wolfgang Neldner, explaining the path that development will take. Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of prevention and are open to "functional food products" that they can easily use to do something for their health. "Yoghurts enriched with vitamin and mineral products are only the beginning," says Dr. Karim Balan, second managing director at Anoxymer. "Our focus is currently on botanical extracts from edible plants, which we use to develop tea concentrates. Incorporated into food as health ingredients, they provide desirable added value in the food sector."
The EU directive on the use of health claims – health-related statements in non-pharmaceutical food advertising – is a benefit to collaboration. "Previously, food was not allowed to have an effect," explains BioTeSys CEO Dr. Bernhardt. But this is changing with the new legal position, he says. "This naturally offers Anoxymer a huge opportunity as a manufacturer of extracts whose ingredients are designed to have a particular effect." Customers from the food production sector can now not only incorporate health ingredients in their food but also generate new unique selling points by advertising the effects of functionalised products. However, before yoghurt pots are printed with appropriate slogans, quantitative and qualitative research data needs to be available to prove the bioactive impact of substances incorporated into the end product. "This is exactly where our collaboration comes into play," says Dr. Bernhardt. "BioTeSys tests and investigates the functional and health-giving properties of standardised plant extracts and enriched foodstuffs and thus acts as a technology partner for Anoxymer." The fact that all Anoxymer’s customers are also potential customers for BioTeSys and vice-versa is a key argument for collaboration, explains Dr. Karim Balan. "It is a process of give and take at both sales and scientific level."
In the ongoing initial collaboration phase, Anoxymer and BioTeSys are working on quality analysis issues relating to the bioactive extract from lemon verbena which has already been commercialised. The researchers’ interest is focused on anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or immunostimulatory effects. In view of the new health claims directive, yoghurt pots marked "Prevents mild knee joint arthrosis" are no longer a far-off aim. Data gathering and evaluation are key to remaining successful and competitive. "The market is vast and growth rates are enormous," says Dr. Jürgen Bernhardt."The more we know about the effect of extracts, the more that product concepts can be developed and the more that marketing opportunities can be shaped more effectively."
That is why the second collaboration phase is now being prepared with its focus on marketing. Supported by BioTeSys, Anoxymer is looking to identify and test the bioactivity of standardised, water-soluble verbena extract in the end product – a fruit juice or dairy product. "This involves user studies in which participants spoon up their functionalised yoghurt on a daily basis," explains Wolfgang Neldner. "Plant extract from lemon verbena is our first product in the pipeline. Others will follow soon," says Dr. Karim Balan. There are numerous promising market segments to be tackled in conjunction with BioTeSys, such as active extracts from pomegranates or bioactive natural substances as a preventive measure for chronic inflammatory bowel conditions.
The two biotech partners are looking to reinforce the "natural" synergy effects that derive from the spatial proximity and the conditions offered by the Life Science Centre. "Our collaboration is intended to help establish the life science location of Esslingen as a centre of excellence in innovative foodstuffs throughout Europe," says Wolfgang Neldner.
Other partners are invited to help boost the influence of the location.
Both companies feel at home under the BioRegio STERN umbrella: "Dr. Eichenberg and his team from BioRegio STERN Management GmbH understand and support us where they can. They are the link for keeping the information flow going in the region and promoting cooperation in the sector," says Dr. Karim Balan. "This doesn’t just enhance our profile – it also creates major new contacts."