Mars, Incorporated to Partner with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Leading Academic Institutions to Plan Novel Study
In a novel collaboration, Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Mars, Incorporated plan to partner on the largest research trial to date that will investigate the heart health benefits of flavanols and procyanidins. Once initiated, this large-scale, prospective nutritional intervention will evaluate the role of flavanols in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.
In previous studies, flavanols have been linked to improvements in intermediate risk factors for heart disease, such as reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improvements in the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and improved ability of blood vessels to dilate. Flavanols are naturally occurring bioactives in a variety of food sources, and scientists have invested decades of research into studying cocoa flavanols, in particular.
“This collaboration represents the best of a public-private partnership in the interest of advancing science and public health. It’s exciting to be at this turning point in scientific discovery where we have the potential to achieve benefits for some of our most significant health challenges today,” said Harold Schmitz, Ph.D, Chief Science Officer at Mars, Incorporated.
Mars, Incorporated will provide financial infrastructure support together with the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of NIH, as well as the cocoa flavanol-containing test product for use in this placebo-controlled, randomized trial of 18,000 men and women. Women in the trial will be recruited from the nationwide Women’s Health Initiative and men will be recruited from other large population-based studies.
The collaboration between academic hospitals, NIH, and industry is expected to last 5 years, yielding answers to its scientific questions by 2019.