UK-based Provexis, which describes itself as a "life-science business that discovers, develops and licenses scientifically-proven functional food, medical food and dietary supplement technologies," said it was in "advanced discussions to enter into a development agreement with DSM to commercialize DSM-owned intellectual property through the development of a product for the promotion of healthy blood glucose levels."

Provexis said that under the agreement it would "develop a cost-effective product, carry out clinical trials and gain the necessary regulatory clearances." Netherlands-based DSM, meanwhile, would "contribute intellectual property and know-how to the development program and will assist in areas such as obtaining regulatory clearances."

Provexis added: "The partners will together identify the most appropriate commercialization arrangements before the product is launched."

The two companies already have strong ties. DSM has exclusive rights to market Fruitflow, a tomato extract ingredient developed by Provexis that enhances blood circulation.  That ingredient scored a big win at Nutracon, taking the NutrAward for the best new ingredient.

In December 2009, Fruitflow was granted the first, and to date only the second, Article 13.5 health claim approval under the EU’s Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation. Products containing the ingredient can now legally be marketed with the claim: "Helps maintain normal platelet aggregation, which contributes to healthy blood flow."

In addition DSM Venturing, DSM’s investment arm, holds a substantial stake in Provexis.

In a statement announcing the latest agreement between the two companies, Provexis said: "The benefits of maintaining healthy blood glucose levels are considered to be increasingly relevant not only in diabetics and pre-diabetics but also in the wider population as a whole. It was estimated in 2010 that 25.8 million U.S. residents (8.3 percent of the population) suffer from diabetes, with an estimated 79 million Americans over the age of 20 having pre-diabetes.

"It is believed that people with diabetes have a higher than average risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Sales of foods and drinks specifically marketed to address heart health conditions are growing strongly and were forecast to reach $7.7 billion in the US and Europe in 2010."