Technology reduces fat digestibility and converts it into weight management and blood lipid lowering food.  Fats are an essential part of the human diet. However, excessive consumption leads to overweight, obesity, liver and cardiovascular health problems. The definition of “excess” is highly personalised and depends not only on the metabolism of an individual, the status of his/her digestive system and body parameters, but also on the composition and volume of the ingested fat and other nutrients co-ingested with the food. Therefore it is difficult for an individual to determine the sufficient and non- excessive level of fat ingestion at a particular time and for a particular food.

Lycotec Ltd, a company based in Cambridge UK, has developed a technology which can help to solve this problem. Called “L-tug”, this technology changes the physical folding of lipid molecules, which results in a reduction in the rate of digestion of edible fats and oils. This conversion serves as a “safety valve” when an individual consumes an excessive amount of fat. When this happens the digestive system does not have enough time to break down all the ingested fat, and the excess passes into the body. If the amount of fat is not excessive then the body has time to digest all of it.

The technology behind L-tug fat conversion is the use of some safe food molecules, which are present in nature as essential micro-constituents in all plant and animal fats. During industrial extraction and refining of plant oils, these molecules are typically removed, making fat much too easy to digest. When it comes to animals, they do not make such constituents but can only get them through eating plants. Contemporary agriculture is based on intensive feed, which typically lacks these ingredients or provides them at an insufficient level. This translates into low presence or complete absence of these essential molecules in the milk and fat of farming animals.

Lycotec technology reconstitutes the deficiency in industrially produced fats and oils by doping them in a ratio of 1 part of L-tug to 10,000, 100,000 or even more parts of lipids. As a result of this, the size of the lipid droplets or fat globules is dramatically enlarged, which leads to an increase in the time needed for their digestion. The changes in the fat digestibility are stable even when it is blended into another food matrix such as chocolate, ice cream, yogurt or milk. L-tug changes are resistant to pasteurisation, boiling or cooking.

In a number of clinical trials the company demonstrated that ingestion of L-tug dairy butter, vegetable oils and chocolate resulted in a significantly lower level of postprandial lipids in the blood of volunteers. Moreover, daily intake of L-tug chocolate or replacement in the diet of conventional butter with its L-tug version resulted in a reduction of triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol in the fasting blood of volunteers. Control of the former lipid is essential for weight management and of the latter to support cardiovascular health. 

The lipid-lowering effect of edible fats combined with the L-tug ingredients has been patented for some years and the patent already granted in a number of territories. However, based on this unorthodox and unexplained phenomenon of the creation of lipid-lowering fats, it proved difficult to bring associated products to the market, since health claims would have to have been based on the effect of these fats on the body, and therefore would have required EFSA and FDA approval. 

After 4 years of additional research and development, scientists in Lycotec have not only gained more insight into the mechanism of the changes in L-tug lipids, but also further developed, adapted for different fats, clinically validated, refined and standardised the technology behind this conversion. The change in fat digestibility is the result of an engineering process, therefore L-tug food health claims do not need EFSA or FDA approval, but can have the claims under the category of Food for Special Medical purposes. This would require only national authority notification and a scientific dossier to substantiate the claims, which Lycotec now has. Moreover, since L-tug technology does not create any new chemical entities, there is no need for Novel Food status approval.

All this work has resulted in a new patent application, filed in February this year. A combination of two patents, the “composition of matter” and the “proprietary process”, provide one of the strongest of IP protections for the technology and L-tug products.

According to Dr Ivan Petyaev, the founder and CEO of Lycotec, L-tug technology is set to be able to personalise, optimise and overall revolutionise the food fats we eat. The technology and clinically validated food prototypes will be introduced to the industry and investment leaders next month in London at the Future Food-Tech

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