Stem Cell Research For Diet And Health To Be Conducted By Nestle Institute of Health Sciences
January 9, 2014

Nestle Teams Up With Biotech Company To Research Healthy Foods

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Nestle has reached an agreement with biotechnology company Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) over the purchase of specialized stem cells that the food maker is expected to use in researching the connection between diet and health.

CDI announced on Wednesday that the two companies had reached an agreement. Under the agreement, brain and liver stem cells from CDI will be sent to the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences for the study of how nutrients found in foods affect these human cells, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nestle is expected to use this research to develop nutritionally enhanced drinks and food products that it can market as medically beneficial. Nestle set up its Health Sciences unit in 2011 with the purpose of pursuing the growing demand for "medical foods" coming from aging consumers.

Robert Palay, chief executive at CDI, told the Journal that “18 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies” buy the company’s specialized cells and Nestle is the first food manufacturer to make a similar agreement. CDI generates brain, liver and other cells from mature adult stem cells.

Emmanuel Baetge, director of the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences, told the Wall Street Journal that company scientists have started studying the CDI cells to determine how fatty acids found in avocados and olive oil interact with neurons. They are also studying the cells in the context of possible applications for treating obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

In February 2013, Nestle announced it would buy Pamlab, which makes specialized foods for patients with dementia, depression or a high-risk pregnancy. In 2012, the food manufacturer bought a major stake in Accera, which makes a medical food for Alzheimer's patients.

Nestle also appears to have an interest in the world of consumer electronics as the company’s Nescafe brand held its first-ever event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. The event united Nescafé with a group of tech companies hoping to do business with the food maker.

"[Technology] changes and enables consumer behavior and CES is a showcase of that," Nescafe CMO Sean Murphy told Ad Age. "Waiting until this is already in market, you're already too late."

Nescafe came to CES with a brief describing how the company’s coffee is sustainably grown and produced, as well as the social elements of coffee consumption. Murphy said he walked away with solid leads after meeting with startups like Blippar, Ayla Networks and Retailigence.

Ayla Networks pitched a smart coffee maker controlled from a mobile device that allows for sharing of things like brews and recipes on social media. Robert Markovich told Ad Age that his company, which constructs and maintains the back-end technology, had been receiving inquiries from device-makers in the wake of the NEST smart thermostat, which learns users’ heating preferences and adjusts to them.

"The role of the coffee machine and connectivity is a given -- we just have to decide the play we want to make," Murphy said. "Part of the game is momentum; you don't want to spend two years getting something in-market.”