06/07/2005 - An Israeli start-up says its nanoparticles can significantly increase the bioavailability of CoQ10 and other functional ingredients by improving their solubility, writes Dominique Patton.

NutraLease, a firm carved out of the Hebrew University with funding from the Israeli government and private investors, says two human clinical trials suppport the enhanced bioavailability of CoQ10 delivered into beverages using its novel technology. The findings will interest manufacturers of CoQ10 products, facing very high prices for the ingredient. Increasing its bioavailability, or the body's absorption of the ingredient, allows supplement and food makers to use lower dosages, therefore saving on costs.

“We use modified, swollen micelles that can invert easily from being water in oil to oil in water,? NutraLease CEO Professor Nissim Garti told NutraIngredients.com.

The patented technology uses common food-grade emulsifiers and solvents to trap water droplets in oil. On delivery into a solution, such as a beverage or soup, the water and oil layers are inverted delivering the ingredient into the liquid.

“It’s like an umbrella that turns inside out. So it goes from being a surface that keeps the water out to one where the water is on the outside,? he explained.

The technology is already being used in phytosterol-enriched oils on the Israeli market and vitamin E and D fortified beverages in the US. It can also be used to deliver lycopene – an ingredient that is insoluble in both water and oil - into drinks.

“Our bioavailability studies have shown that compared to standard capsules sold in Japan, which are already 275 per cent more bioavailable than tablets, our system can further increase bioavailability by 70 per cent,? said Professor Garti.

His firm will present the data at the IFT show in New Orleans next week. The CoQ10 nanoparticles have been licensed for the Japanese market but Professor Garti says they could be used in other markets.

NutraLease contracts out production of the nanoparticles to an Israeli partner. It says the costs vary depending on the ‘guest molecule’ but that the supporting vehicle is not expensive.

Professor Garti also discussed the NutraLease delivery technology at last month's Nanofoods conference in the Netherlands.

Nanotechnology refers to developments on the nanometer scale, usually 0.1 to 100 nanometres. One nanometer equals one thousandth of a micrometer or one millionth of a millimeter.

About 200 companies around the world are currently active in nanofood research and development, although many of these are in such diverse sectors as processing and packaging and sensors for harmful bacteria.

The nanofood market, still in its infancy, is however expected to grow rapidly from $2.6 billion today to $7 billion next year and to $20.4bn in 2010 according to consultant Helmut Kaiser.