Tagatose gets first pharma customer

Related tags Diabetes mellitus

US company Spherix has made the first sale of its Naturlose
sweetener to a company in the pharmaceutical sector, since the
products was cleared for this application last December.

Naturlose is Spherix's brand name for non-food uses of tagatose, a naturally occurring bulk sweetener with a sugar-like taste and a low glycaemic index value of 3 per cent.

The company said that the unnamed customer had purchased a batch of the sweetener for a pilot study of a developmental drug that, if approved, could give Spherix its first major foray into the drug sector.

Biospherix was able to press ahead with the marketing of Naturlose only after settling a drawn-out dispute with Arla Foods, in which it alleged that the Danish firm was dragging its heels in bringing tagatose to market.

The dispute was settled by arbitration a few months ago, freeing up Biospherix to offer the product to customers in the non-food sectors. Until then, a question mark had been hanging over the firm's ability to actually supply the sweetener. Arla has exclusive rights to sell another version of the product, under the Gaio-Tagatose brand name, to companies in the food and beverage markets. This product has already started to appear in a number of brands.

Currently, a number of global pharmaceutical and oral care companies are conducting product formulations and developments with Naturlose, said Spherix in a statement.

In June, the Spherix​ division charged with selling Naturlose, BioSpherix, moved its laboratories and office facilities to the Annapolis Technology Park in Annapolis, Maryland. In the new laboratories, BioSpherix R&D will develop creative non-food prototypes of new products, including oral care and other over-the-counter drugs. BioSpherix will also conduct product development on specific customer projects.

Health benefits

BioSpherix claims that aside from its sweetening properties, Naturlose has a number of health benefits that could contribute to the efficacy of pharmaceutical preparations.

These attributes include improved digestion and suppression of pathogenic colon bacteria; production of butyrate, a substance that fights colon cancer; and glucose spike-blunting that helps control blood sugar levels in diabetics who eat glucose-containing foods.

The company has also sponsored a small Phase I human clinical trial suggesting that Naturlose can be used to manage blood glucose in type 2 diabetes and achieve weight loss in obese subjects.

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