Food Giant Nestlé Ventures Forth into Diagnostic Devices Industry with Alzheimer’s Detection Test

The medical devices industry is brimming with opportunities, enticing behemoths from the technology domain, such as Apple and Google, to venture into this territory. And now, an unlikely contender hopes to cash in on the lucrative opportunities that exist in the med devices industry. Food giant Nestlé is venturing forth with a diagnostic device that helps detect Alzheimer’s early on. The Nestle Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) has developed a proprietary platform and is now moving to deploy it for the development of an assay to detect Alzheimer’s disease early on. According to recent estimates, over 44 mn people worldwide reportedly suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

To this end, the NIHS inked an agreement with AC Immune SA, a France-based biopharmaceutical company, to develop a test that would identify tangles of Tau proteins. Based on previous research, scientists at Nestle say that Tau proteins are among the two most prominent symptoms of neurodegeneration.

Thus, by developing a diagnostic device that can spot this important causative factor, Nestle expects to break into a space that has not been commercially exploited thus far in the Alzheimer’s diagnosis field. Beta-amyloid plaques are the other important hallmark of neurodegeneration. Nestle’s strategy is to use the Tau proteins as a biomarker to aid the detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Ed Baetge, who heads the NIHS, said that its latest deal with AC Immune will open up several new growth avenues through which it hopes to grab a share in the expanding revenue pie of the medical devices industry. He described the next-generation Nestle platform as being “ultrasensitive.” The test will be minimally invasive and will use blood samples from patients to detect the disease. Tau said that proprietary diagnostic technology was acquired along with its acquisition of Prometheus Laboratories in 2011. The NIHS says that it has been using the technology in its various brain research programs since the last two years.

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