by Elisabeth King
Food companies, Big Pharma and chemical/biotech companies have been targeting the modern nutraceuticals market since its nascent beginnings. No wonder. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global nutraceutical market was valued at US$205.4 billion in 2016 and is expected to soar to US$294.79 billion by 2022.
Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in key markets such as the US, Western Europe, Japan, China and Australia are fueling the rising consumption of dietary supplements and products that promise to rejuvenate the body and mind, with nutraceuticals containing anti-ageing ingredients playing a dominant role.
Sibelius, a spin-off from the University of Oxford’s world-class Biochemistry Department, has built up a formidable reputation for innovative science-based ingredients, intellectual property and stringent quality control that allows manufacturers to differentiate themselves in the global marketplace and make unique claims substantiated by research and clinical evidence. With our expertise in the ageing process and the role nutrition plays in maintaining lifelong health, we recently worked with L’Oréal on testing an Ayurvedic herb that has long been associated with longevity and ageing well, says Kieron Edwards, Business Development and Data Analytics Manager for Sibelius.
New Chapter/ World-Beating Collaborations
In April, Sibelius: Sage for Seniors, a biologically active extract of sage, was launched at a nutraceutical conference in London as the company’s first branded product. A capsule formula for seniors taken once a day, it targets the over-60s and improves cognitive function and alertness, says Kieron Edwards. “The health benefits of sage have been known for hundreds of years, but we used our patented ChronoscreenTM technology to help fully understand its effects and to improve biological activity over the single extract”.
Sibelius is not only selling the sage product under its own label. The company also offers raw bulk product to clients to enable them to formulate their own versions. Australia is being used as one of the test markets because of Sibelius’ connection to the Fenix Innovation Group, an Australian innovation development company, who became interested in the company’s patented, biological testing platform, Chronoscreen™. Other target markets include Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia. Sibelius has also met with leading Australian vitamins and supplement brands.
The launch of the Sibelius: Sage extract, which can be used alone or combined with other extracts and ingredients, marks a new chapter for Sibelius as an increasing number of consumers worldwide become better educated about the diet/disease link. But we are also very focused on helping clients to test proprietary ingredients and products, says Edwards.
Lifestyle factors, such as nutrition are vitally important because human lifespan is increasing at the rate of nearly two years per decade but healthspan is not accelerating at the same rate, he adds. “Nutrients and bioactive food components can help to re-set epigenetic controls in the body and to modify key pathways associated with age-related problems from the age process itself to obesity, cognitive improvement, cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance and more”.
Unrivalled Anti-Ageing Expertise and Clinical Substantiation
Our core mission is to develop and test natural ingredients with anti-ageing benefits, says Edwards. “Companies using our first-in-class ChronoscreenTM technology, which evaluates biological activity, can develop or re-formulate their own enhanced performance products. We have tested hundreds of products in collaboration with global partners, notably in the US, Europe and Asia, and have a strong internal pipeline in areas including obesity/metabolic syndrome and allergies to support product development for manufacturers and suppliers. The approach is also showing great promise in the assessment of probiotic supplements; a category that is increasingly being recognised as having the potential to have an immense impact on human health and is growing at 10% per annum in key markets. The use of in vivo models on the ChronoscreenTM platform allows us to not only discover new nutraceutical ingredients, but also identify novel applications for existing ones”.
Research, safety data and clinical substantiation of claims is crucial in the global nutraceutical market, says Edwards. “Sibelius uses C.elegans as a model organism which has 40 to 80 per cent homology with human genes and has been used as a key model in studies recognised by the Nobel Prize Committee. Essentially, we use C.elegans to test the effect of natural products on its lifespan/longevity. Extension of lifespan in the worm indicates the treatment has a beneficial effect on cellular ageing – the pathways of which are well conserved across multiple species all the way from the worm to humans and have the potential to delay the onset of age-related conditions”.
The ChronoscreenTM platform studies cellular ageing via phenotypic screening and allows us to screen a large number of natural products in the worms for activity in a semi-automated, high-throughput manner, says Edwards. “We can then follow up the positive leads with down-stream molecular analysis of their effects, with the aim to refine our understanding and ultimately enable testing in a clinical setting to demonstrate health benefits”.
Cosmeceutical Applications/Third Party
Certification Epigenetics’ role as an underlying regulatory network linked to cellular health also has many potential applications in cosmeceuticals. Sibelius’ work with L’Oréal, and their expertise in probiotics, one of the hottest buzzwords in skincare, indicate huge potential especially in the booming natural/organic skincare market. The company has also conducted extensive testing on resveratrol, the potent antioxidant and anti-ageing active widely used in skincare by major brands such as Estée Lauder and L’Oréal-owned SkinCeuticals.
What’s driving the nutraceutical and cosmeceutical trends are ageing populations worldwide looking for ways to maintain their health and appearance and prolong their lives. There is nothing new about the concept of ingredients and foods that work wonders for health, but stricter regulatory rules and higher scientific hurdles for claims have made third-party certification especially important for suppliers of sustainable and natural products as a way of reassuring well-educated consumers about their products. Cutting-edge technologies often require years of hard work before they are ready for the marketplace and the more complex the technology, the greater the number of difficulties to be overcome.
The importance of understanding the effects of natural ingredients and demonstrating their efficacy will become even greater in the future, and Sibelius provides a range of effective tools that directly and rapidly address this task. “We help manufacturers to minimise risk and reduce costs, whether an ingredient is being tested for a new application or it’s an ethno-botanic active new to the market with a long heritage in folk medicine”, says Edwards. “A persistent theme in all markets we are targeting – the US, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Australia – is that nutraceuticals which help to prevent, cure or treat age-related diseases can significantly help to reduce the ever-increasing costs of healthcare”.
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