New remedy to control appetite may be on the way

Spin-off company from Aarhus University examines the potential of protein hydrolysates to prevent obesity and diabetes.

2013.11.08 | Janne Hansen

Senior scientist Jan Stagsted uses mini pigs fed ad libitum in experiments on obesity and diabetes. Photo: Janne Hansen

Agro Business Innovation A/S and SEED Capital Denmark have invested in a knowledge-intensive food research project that looks into whether dietary supplements based on specific protein hydrolysates can counteract the development of obesity and diabetes and thus be used in weight control.

 

The company behind the research project is Diet4Life ApS, founded by Jan Stagsted, biochemist, MD and senior scientist at the Department of Food Science, Aarhus University.

 

With the help of experiments on rats and pigs, Diet4Life examines the long-term effect of regular consumption of specific proteins pretreated and digested with specific enzymes. The intention is to look at their suitability as a dietary supplement and whether protein hydrolysates have a dampening effect on appetite.

 

- The incentive to invest in Diet4Life comes from having followed Jan's research at Aarhus University in recent years and believing in the commercial potential of Diet4Life. Lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes are a global challenge, and food and health are becoming increasingly interlinked, says Lars Visbech Sørensen, director of Agro Business Innovation A/S.

 

The first spin-off

Diet4Life is the first spin-off from the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University.

 

- The setting up of Diet4Life is an important step in commercialising parts of the food research projects undertaken at the department and we look forward to having a close future cooperation with the company. The first spin-off will hopefully result in increased focus on the importance of commercialising knowledge and an increased number of spin-offs from research in the future, says Michelle Williams, head of the Department of Food Science, Aarhus University.

 

Large market

Lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity represent a growing challenge for humanity and health systems in most parts of the developed world. According to international assessments, at least 20 percent of the world's population are expected to develop lifestyle-related diseases, and with a global population of seven billion people, the potential market for products that can counteract this development is vast. According to WHO, the direct healthcare costs of obesity-related diseases amounted to over 10 billion euro in 2010.

 

- The global obesity epidemic is a well-known fact, but the costs are not. We have a belief that growth in this sector can be immense, and that Diet4Life has huge potential. We therefore look forward to a fruitful collaboration and to following the company in the future, says Frank Knudsen, Investment Director of SEED Capital.

 

Dietary supplements based on natural food ingredients will probably be implemented faster and cheaper and have fewer side effects than drug-based initiatives.

 

Further information: Senior scientist Jan Stagsted, Diet4Life and Department of Food Science, e-mail: jan.stagsted@agrsci.dk, telephone: +45 8715 7626, mobile +45 2449 6488

 

Lars Visbech Sorensen, Agro Business Innovation, mobile +45 4056 7128

 

Frank Knudsen, Seed Capital Denmark, mobile +45 2968 4468

 

 

Facts

 

Aarhus University carries out research and education in agriculture and food production in the entire chain from farm to fork. Research at the Department of Food Science focuses in particular on conditions relating to food production and processes, food quality and the health aspects of foods and food components.

 

Agro Business Innovation A/S is an independent, private limited company under the Agro Business Park with funds for risk capital ventures in the early stage of a company's life. Investments are made exclusively in companies within the agricultural, food, bioenergy and environmental technology sector.

 

SEED Capital is the largest venture fund within the pre-seed and seed sector in Denmark and specialises in identifying and developing new and innovative technology companies. SEED Capital manages both private venture capital and public resources through the innovative environment, DTU Symbion Innovation. The public funds permit SEED to invest in start-ups in the early stages, and private funds can then be invested in the most successful companies in subsequent investment rounds. SEED currently manages approx. 1.8 billion DKK and has about 65 companies in its portfolio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCA