Local scientists licensed Emulin, which they say can lower blood sugar.
By Kevin Bouffard The Ledger
Lake Alfred, FL - Two local scientists think they have unlocked the secret to a less toxic brownie.
OK, brownies aren't toxic for most people, but the sugar presents hazardous medical complications to 23.7 million diabetics in the U.S. and more than 250 million worldwide.
Joe Ahrens and Daryl Thompson, partners in ATM Metabolics, said they've discovered a natural compound that, when used as a food additive, can lower blood sugar in the human body. The partners have licensed their discovery, called "Emulin," for more than $100 million to one of the world's largest food ingredient companies, Ahrens said.
Citing a confidentiality agreement, Ahrens declined to name the company, but he described it as a European-based firm that provides sugars, starches and other food ingredients to food processors around the world. An official announcement from the company could take several months, Ahrens said. The deal culminates a six-year research effort that led to the February 2008 discovery of Emulin. The breakthrough sprang less from genius than from old-fashioned detective work, Ahrens said.
"Most people in science do not want to read the literature, and they miss the boat," he said from the company's Lake Alfred office. "We just did some old-fashioned, scientific gumshoe research."
One might call Emulin the fruits of their labors - tropical fruits, that is. The natural compound is derived from tropical fruits, such as citrus, grapes and a variety of berries. It aids the body in digesting and using sugars. "We found a way to make sugar safer for people," Thompson said.
Emulin won't help dieters, however, as it has no effect on the calories in the food product, Ahrens said. The ATM partners said they licensed their discovery with a food company because that's the fastest way to get Emulin into the market. Because it's a natural compound, Emulin would not require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as a food additive, he said. FDA regulations would prohibit any food product using Emulin from claiming to have a therapeutic effect, such as "prevents diabetes," Ahrens said, but it could make less definitive claims, such as helping to manage blood sugar levels.
Adding Emulin to a brownie or other sugary product would help diabetics because it would reduce the spike in blood sugar caused by such foods without the additive, Ahrens and Thompson said.