How Nestlé and AC Immune are fighting Alzheimer’s disease

By maria collazo

“…committed to enhancing people’s lives by offering tastier and healthier food and beverage choices at all stages of life and at all times of the day,” reads Nestlé’s company bio. As one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, it is interesting to see a name such as this in health.

But, it’s true. In a recent move closer towards the health care industry, Nestlé’s health division team—the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS)—has signed a research collaboration agreement with the Swiss biotech company AC Immune to develop an Alzheimer’s disease diagnostic test, according to our sister publication Healthcare Global.

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The NIHS is part of Nestlé’s global R&D network and performs fundamental research for the understanding of health and disease and for developing science-based targeted nutritional solutions.

The role of NIHS within Nestlé is to drive the development of innovative nutritional concepts and products that will benefit consumers worldwide through outstanding scientific and technological research whilst strengthening Nestlé’s position as the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. With no cure, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

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Through the partnership, AC Immune will offer Nestlé its expertise in biology and pathology of the Tau protein (abundantly found within the central nervous system) with its laboratory capacity to support the research program. The NIHS will provide its technology platform for antibody detection, in order to identify and validate an in vitro diagnostic test for the highly sensitive detection of the tau protein in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood plasma.

AC Immune, which already has established ties with Roche and Johnson & Johnson in drug research, said on Wednesday it would develop a minimally invasive diagnostic assay for Tau with the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences, reported Reuters.

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This is Nestlé’s second medical deal in a week and reveals the progression towards the more profitable medical field as sales of processed foods slow in many markets. Over the last two years, Nestlé has been investing in the market for health care products that have higher margins than the coffee, soups and sweets it is generally known for.

The collaboration between Nestlé and AC Immune shows promise, as globally there are already 44 million individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Finding an effective test to diagnose Alzheimer’s in its very early stages is considered to be one of the most pressing needs in the treatment of the disease.

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