BARCELONA, SPAIN--The Spanish biotech company AB-Biotics has launched a new food ingredient, called AB-Fortis, which prevents iron deficiency. AB-Fortis allows to provide all the recommended daily amount of iron in a single dose, avoiding the metallic taste and the classic side effects of iron fortification of foods. The product is a patented micro-encapsulation system consisting of a calcium alginate matrix that holds and protects a salt of iron (III) inside. This capsule is stable under high temperatures and pressures, so it can be easily incorporated into food processing, including fat-rich matrices such as milk or yogurt without oxidation, and it can also be incorporated into nutritional supplements containing iron and vitamins.
To market this new ingredient, AB-Biotics has signed distribution agreements with several companies. The Spanish company Suan Farma will be the main distributor of AB-Fortis, as it will have distribution rights for 2 years worldwide. These rights will be exclusive except in certain markets where the product will also have other distributors: AB-Biotics has also signed an agreement with the American company The Green Labs, which will have nonexclusive rights for 5 years to distribute AB-Fortis in the United States, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia; on the other hand, the Spanish firm Disproquima will have non-exclusive distribution rights for four years to distribute AB-Fortis in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Turkey.
How AB-Fortis works
Iron is an essential trace element for maintaining the vital functions of humans. The diet should include the recommended daily allowance of iron. Lower doses can lead to health problems like iron deficiency anemia, which is one of the most common nutritional disorders, even in developed countries. Anaemia affects 1.62 billion people according to the WHO, which corresponds to 24.8% of the population; the highest prevalence is in preschool-age children (47%), pregnant women (42%) and women of childbearing age (30%).
Until now, iron fortification used to alter the taste of food because of its metallic taste and the oxidization of fat, which caused a rancid taste. It also could cause dental discoloration and heartburn, causing consumer rejection. To avoid these side effects, food used to be fortified with low doses which didn’t cover the necessary daily dose of iron. So far, the available systems to encapsulate iron salts couldn’t be incorporated into all the food because they were sensitive to pH or temperature.
With AB-Fortis, the iron is protected inside the capsule, so the consumer does not notice any metallic taste when ingesting the product. The acid pH in the stomach fails to destroy AB-Fortis, so the iron continues encapsulated its journey until reaching its goal: the gut. It avoids heartburn or nausea, common when ingesting iron salts. The basic pH and high concentration of sodium in intestinal bile salts finally erodes the capsule and releases their content. In the intestinal wall, an enzyme reduces the iron (III) of AB-Fortis into Iron (II), which is finally absorbed by the intestine through a divalent metal transporter protein.
Clinical trials in humans have shown that the iron contained in the AB-FORTIS microcapsule is well absorbed by the gut, at equivalent rates to the iron consumed in the form of ferrous sulfate.
AB-Biotics is a Spanish biotechnology company focused on research, development, protection and distribution of its own exclusive biotechnological solutions for human heath. Since 2010, the company has been listed on the Spanish Alternative Investment Market (MAB).
In December 2011, AB-BIOTICS closed a fundraising round of 4.3 million euros to tackle the 1st phase of the company’s internationalization plan. The goal is to have presence in markets such as Brazil, USA, Mexico, UK, Germany, France and Turkey, especially to market its personalized medicine solutions and licensing its line of functional ingredients, including AB-Fortis. The company has now open a new fundraising round to boost this internationalization. The pharma company Almirall has entered the share capital of the company on this new round.