Nestlé Invests in Medical Food for Alzheimer’s Disease

July 23, 2012

Nestlé says the investment will build its cognitive portfolio.

Nestlé Health Science has acquired a stake in privately held healthcare firm Accera Inc. (Broomfield, CO) to develop and commercialize a medical food for patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Called Axona, the medical food is Accera’s key product. The company describes it as “intended for the clinical dietary management of the metabolic processes associated with [AD].”

Terms of the investment were not disclosed, but Accera’s president and CEO Holger Kunze stated in a press release, “Nestlé Health Science’s investment will enable us to make larger clinical trials and help us strengthen our commercial capabilities in the United States.” Axona is already on the market by prescription in the United States, and Kunze said that Nestlé’s support will help Accera expand Axona’s international market.

Nestlé Health Science S.A. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nestlé S.A. It conjunction with the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, its goal is to “spearhead the development of science-based personalized nutritional solutions,” it said.

In a press release, Nestlé Health Science president and CEO Luis Cantarell said that the Axona investment is part of Nestlé’s expansion plan in the cognitive field. “Our stake in Accera is a strategic step forward in building up our brain health portfolio,” he said.

According to Nestlé in its press release, “Nestlé has many year of experience researching the relationship between nutrition and cognitive function. It is critical that new solutions are found to manage cognitive decline, a major challenge in the public health area, and Nestlé Health Science is well placed to contribute to this effort. The investment in Accera by Nestlé Health Science will allow the collection of more extensive clinical data to support existing research into Axona.”

Thus far, Accera has completed four clinical trials “with similar compounds” in elderly individuals with memory impairment or mild-to-moderate AD. Patients who took Axona for up to 90 days experienced cognitive improvement, Accera said. “These treatment effects were notably significant among patients who were not carriers of the apolipoprotein E4 allele (APOE4), a genetic risk factor associated with a higher probability of developing AD. Approximately 50% of individuals diagnosed with probable AD are estimated to be APOE4 negative.” The company said these results were published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism in August 2009. (“Study of the ketogenic agent AC-1202 in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial.”

Nestlé Health Science said it is also focusing on chronic conditions in the areas of gastrointestinal and metabolic health. Nestlé also pointed to acquisitions it has made recently, which “fit its strategic ambitions”: Vitaflo, a company focused on those with genetic disorders that affect how food is processed by the body; CM&D Pharma Ltd., which specializes in chronic conditions like kidney disease; Prometheus Laboratories, a U.S. firm involved in diagnostics and license specialty pharmaceuticals in gastrointestinal health and oncology; and Vital Foods, a New Zealand firm focusing on developing kiwi-based solutions for gastrointestinal conditions.