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Brandeis and Smart Balance team up to advance heart-healthy research

Waltham, Mass.Brandeis University has announced a multi-year $1 million sponsored research agreement with Smart Balance Inc. through its wholly owned subsidiary, the maker of Smart Balance buttery spread and other low-fat and fat-free foods that help lower cholesterol through a patented blend of natural vegetable oils. In addition, Brandeis and Smart Balance have entered into a collaboration and license to develop a second-generation heart-healthy fat for Smart Balance.

The funding will support continued research on diet factors that affect cholesterol metabolism and diabetes in the lab of nutritionist K.C. Hayes, who, along with research scientist Dan Perlman, invented and patented the Smart Balance blend of oils that improves the HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio, in part, by replacing dietary trans fat in food products.

Under the agreement, $1 million will be paid over ten years, with an option to increase funding. The bulk of support, $650,000, will be paid over the first three years, starting this fall. In addition to the $1 million, Smart Balance has committed $500,000 to support animal and human testing of new food technologies under the collaboration and license agreement.

The deal is one of the largest industry-sponsored research agreements in Brandeis' history, said Irene Abrams, executive director of the Office of Technology Licensing at Brandeis. "It's clear that the Smart Balance management believes, as we do, that the best future technology in this area will come from Brandeis," she said.

"We are very excited about extending our earlier research applications in order to generate additional better foods for healthier living," said Hayes, who has researched lipid metabolism for three decades. "It is a real vote of confidence to have Smart Balance step in with resources to support our research, and we look forward to deepening this partnership."

Hayes and Perlman developed and licensed the technology at the heart of Smart Balance buttery spread more than a decade ago to replace heart-damaging trans fat. Trans fat raises serum levels of LDL, so-called bad cholesterol, and reduces the level of HDL, or good, cholesterol, as well as increases other cardiovascular disease risk factors. Since the original technology was licensed to Smart Balance, the company has marketed a growing family of heart-healthier products, including oils, sprays, spreads, popcorn, peanut butter, and blends using the heart-healthier technology invented at Brandeis.

Additionally, Hayes and Perlman have licensed their patented technology to fortify milk with vitamin E to Smart Balance. Drinking milk with vitamin E may help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, skin aging, and other conditions that result from oxidative processes. The fortified milk is available in a growing number of regions throughout the U.S. Perlman has also developed and licensed technology to Smart Balance for stabilizing omega-3 fatty acids in foods, including Smart Balance peanut butter and milk products.

"Smart Balance looks forward to strengthening its technology partnership with Brandeis University," said Smart Balance Chief Operating Officer Robert Gluck. "This partnership with Brandeis will help Smart Balance achieve its goal of developing innovative and great-tasting new food products which address wellness needs of all consumers."


Contact: Laura Gardner
Brandeis University

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