Entia Biosciences Inc. (OTC Markets: ERGO), a biotechnology company focused on the clinical effects of oxidative stress and free radical reactions in food sciences, has developed a unique compound that combines the power of vitamin D2 with that of ergothioneine. The combination could provide a clinically meaningful response in Parkinson's Disease and a number of other conditions, potentially making the nutritional supplement developer a very lucrative investment.
What is Vitamin D2?
Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is a provitamin form of vitamin D that is considered to be as effective as vitamin D3 that is produced naturally by the skin when exposed to ultraviolet light. In nature, vitamin D2 is most commonly found in mushrooms where it is produced synthetically through irradiation of ergosterol in concentrations as high as 524 IU. Supplements have been able to significantly increase this dosage in order to maximize benefit.1
In nutrition, vitamin D is considered an "essential antioxidant" responsible for maintaining blood levels of phosphorus and calcium that promotes bone mineralization and calcium absorption. The vitamin is also responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system and regulating cell differentiation and growth, with deficiencies in the vitamin linked to obesity, diabetes, and an increasing number of serious medical conditions.2
Vitamin D2's Role in Disease
Vitamin D could have a role in improving a number of different health conditions ranging from autism to diabetes, according to research compiled by the Vitamin D Council. While many of the studies conducted so far have been observational, clinical studies are underway in several of these areas to draw cause-effect conclusions based on the data. Patients and investors will be closely watching this data, since it could have widespread implications.3
Some of the most important clinical studies are being conducted on conditions like Parkinson's Disease with great promise. Anecdotally, in France, a patient with PD and low vitamin D levels was treated with 4000 IU per day in vitamin D and 1000 mg per day of calcium and saw PD symptoms greatly reduce over the ensuing period following treatment. Separate studies in Finland showed that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a 66% lower risk of PD.3
ErgoD2™'s Promising Results
On August 26, 2013, Entia Biosciences Inc. (OTC Markets: ERGO) announced that its ErgoD2™ vitamin D2 supplement showed the ability to modify symptoms and blood and brain biomarkers associated with Parkinson's Disease. The L-Ergothioneine and Vitamin D2 diet statistically improved long-term grip strength in a well-known PD mouse model. By contrast, most available treatments for PD simply provide short-term symptomatic relief.4
Here's an illustration of the results form a recent investor presentation:
Figure 1 - PD Clinical Trial Improvements - Source: Entia Biosciences
The results from the study, conducted in the Neurochemistry Laboratory of Dr. Jack Rogers at Massachusetts General Hospital, have been submitted to a peer-reviewed medical journal in a paper entitled Improved Grip Strength and Alpha-Synuclein Levels in a Parkinson's disease Mouse Model Using the Novel Antioxident Medical Food ErgoD2. The firm intends to launch a clinical study in humans to confirm the findings in the near future.4
To put the opportunity into prospective, Parkinson's disease alone affects more than as many as one million Americans, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease. The combined direct and indirect costs of the disease, including treatment, social security, and lost income, is estimated to be more than $25 billion per year in the United States alone, according to the PDF.6
Potential Investment Opportunity
The implications of this research could be significant for investors. With omega-3 research driving the nutritional supplements industry to grow at a projected 13.6% clip between 2012 and 2016 after seeing some $1.8 billion in sales in 2011 alone. Nutritional supplement retailers like GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNC) and Vitamin Shoppe Inc. (NYSE: VSI) have benefited handsomely from these trends, as their sales have been steadily on the rise.
According to an article appearing in Natural Products Insider, scientific research continues to be the backbone of all growth factors:
Scientific research continues to be the backbone of all growth factors. It increases awareness among consumers and thus drives the demand for omega-3 products. Research has also increased the consumer's willingness to pay for omega-3 and convinced governments of its long-term health and wellness benefits.
In the case of Entia Biosciences, the company has protected its rights to ErgoD2™, which could make it the equivalent of an exclusive omega-3 distributor. U.S. Patent 12/386,810 and 61/047,268 cover its unique manufacturing methods of extracting the vitamin D2 from fungi and improving its nutritional content, while 11/569,451 covers the identification of ergothioneine transporter and its therapeutic uses, and both patents are exclusively licensed by the company.
As a result, investors in the nutritional supplement space may want to take a closer look at Entia Biosciences given its unique compounds and science-based approach to proving its efficacy in major medical markets. With a market capitalization of just $7 million, the stock trades at just a fraction of its potential if successful in proving ErgoD2™'s efficacy, particularly as it targets more indications than just Parkinson's disease with meaningful clinical studies.
Sources & Citations
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
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