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Nutrition as a defense

A company from the State of Ceara develops products based on the relationship between nutrients and immunology

While the majority of small companies have difficulty overcoming the hurdle of three years of existence, the biotechnology company from the State of Ceara, Nuteral, is about to complete its first ten years. During this period, it not only expanded its physical space, from 50 m2 to 2,400 m2, but as well its line of products and even got a European partner. The company is the fruit of the academic trajectory of Augusto Guimarães. A professor at the Nutrition Department of the State University of Ceará (Uece), he spent some time at the University of São Paulo (USP) at the beginning of the 90s, where he defended his doctorate thesis that dealt with the relationship between some types of fat in diet – in this case the fatty acids – and the immunological response of the organism.

The need for continuing his work on the theme of his thesis led him to create the company Nuteral at the end of 1992, in order to develop a diet for intra-venal nutrition (by way of a drip). Today the company works with thirty six products, destined towards hospital and child nutrition as well as functional food, which as well as giving nutrition has components that can prevent and control illnesses. Last year the company had an income of R$ 6.4 million and this year it is hoped to arrive at R$ 17 million. To hit this target, it is betting on the product Reabilit, a powdered food to be administered after the patient has left hospital. “To get to this product, in four versions, one for each type of illness, took some six years of research with our own capital”, Guimarães says.

The partnership with the Dutch company DMV International is described by Guimarães as a “happy coincidence”. “We discovered the company when we were looking for raw material for our products”, he says. The professor went off to Holland to search out the company. He left there as the exclusive distributor in Brazil for their segment of nutritional ingredients.

Multinational competition
Nuteral has three registered patents one of them refers to the development of peptides (parts of protein) biologically active with a nutritional finality, which resulted in two products, Maxiglutam and Glutimune, destined towards the strengthening of immunological response. Another of a concept, or this is to say, refers to the application of the product destined to intra-venal or oral nutrition exclusively after leaving hospital is with the product Reabilit. The third deals with an industrial process with the product Cal-Carb, a nutritional supplement of calcium. With these patents and the technology developed in Fortaleza, the company faces, as competitors, large multinational laboratories such as the North American Abbott, the Swiss Novartis and Nestlé, the German Fresenius and the Dutch Support.

Guimarães, who divides his time between the company and the university, is also a member of the group researching the regulating role of fatty acids in various functions of the organism, coordinated by professor Rui Curi, of the Biomedical Sciences Institute of USP, the advisor for his doctorate thesis. “In spite of the emphasis on basic research, the scientific results attained have been important in order to spur the development of new nutritional formulae”, says Guimarães. They are similar results to those that served as a stimulus for the creation of Nuteral, a water divide in the professor’s professional trajectory.