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Vanteres: New Study Reveals the Importance of Active-DHA in the Developing Brain

PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vanteres, an innovative biotech company leveraging its biomedical research expertise to develop actively transported lysophospholipids, announces new evidence that demonstrates the critical role of LPC-DHA in normal fetal and infant brain development. The new study, conducted by researchers at Duke-NUS, reveals Active-DHA transported by MFSD2a found at the blood brain barrier plays a physiological role in both brain growth and health during brain development. LPC-DHA or ‘Active-DHA’ is a natural form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that is attached to a lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC).

“We’ve always known the brain is one of the most lipid-rich organs in the body, but until now, we never completely understood how the brain received DHA,” said Douglas Hicks, Chief Business Officer at Vanteres. “By understanding the importance of Active-DHA and its ability to be effectively transported to the brain, we’ve unleashed big possibilities for innovations to support our brain health.”

The study, published in PLOS Biology, illustrates not only how the brain accumulates DHA as Active-DHA, but also provides a mechanistic understanding for its function in brain development. Researchers using MFSD2a-deficient mouse models have definitively proven that MFSD2a deficiency results in a unique form of postnatal microcephaly caused by a lack of DHA. Prior to this study, researchers identified four human families with mutations to the MFSD2a transporter, all of which have cases of severe microcephaly and intellectual disabilities. Although there is no clear-cut genetic evidence for the role of DHA in the brain, the correlation between these animal and human genetic studies prove that MFSD2a and Active-DHA are critical for proper brain development.

“For the first time, we have evidence to prove LPC-DHA or Active-DHA controls crucial processes in the brain to regulate the growth of new membranes in neurons and other cell types after a baby is born when the brain is rapidly growing,” said lead researcher on the study and Duke-NUS professor Dr. David Silver. “Other forms of DHA are not able to enter the brain because of the blood-brain barrier that guards against the free flow of substances into this vital organ.”

Vanteres leverages its proprietary knowledge of the MFSD2a transport and Active-DHA to develop clinical and nutritional products that could improve cognitive health due to low DHA levels in the brain. While the liver naturally transforms DHA into Active-DHA, it is usually not at sufficient levels. Vanteres’ applications of Active-DHA should lead to significantly higher levels of DHA reaching the brain, providing clinical benefits to help address neonatal and adult neurological diseases.

Vanteres had no role in the funding or design of experiments published in the PLOS Biology study.

About Vanteres

Vanteres is an innovative biotech company committed to the science-based development of lipid nutraceuticals for improving human health. Vanteres is leveraging its biomedical research expertise to develop actively transported lysophospholipids (ATLs) for a wide range of disease states. The company’s lead ATL is a lysophosphatidylcholine containing essential omega-3 fatty acids or “Active-DHA”. Active-DHA plays a critical role in the health and maintenance of multiple organs including brain, eye, and liver. Active-DHA is being developed for nutritional and clinical applications to improve human health.

Vanteres, a portfolio company of SPRIM Ventures, was founded by experienced scientific leaders from Duke-NUS and backed by TKS1, a healthcare and life science focused venture capital fund formed by the partnership between SPRIM Ventures and Tikehau Capital (TKO.FP). Vanteres has offices in Philadelphia and Singapore.

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About Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore

The Duke-NUS Medical School was established in 2005 as a strategic collaboration between the Duke University School of Medicine, North Carolina, USA, and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Duke-NUS offers a graduate-entry, four-year MD (Doctor of Medicine) training programme, anchored on an innovative model of self-directed learning. The School also offers MD/PhD and PhD programmes.

Duke-NUS has five Signature Research Programmes: Cancer and Stem Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders, and Health Services and Systems Research.

The collaboration between Duke-NUS and Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) has established an Academic Medical Centre to advance our joint pursuits in clinical care, research and education to transform medicine and improve lives.

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Vanteres Media Contact:
Niki Franklin, 617-624-3264