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Commercialisation of a Micronutrient Delivery Platform for targeted iron absorption


ICURe Programme – SETsquared InnovateUK



£30,000 (ENICH-EU/USA)

£27,650.00 (SETsquared InnovateUK)


Professor Sebastien Farnaud and Professor Derek Renshaw


15 May 2017 to 31 August 2017

ENRICH logo.

Set Squared Partnership logo.

Project overview

The World Health Organisation estimates that iron deficiency affects two billion people worldwide and causes one million deaths per year. It is the most common nutritional disorder. However, current iron supplements are very poorly absorbed, and the non-absorbed iron causes major side-effects which result in low consumer compliance.

This project is the develpement and commercialisation of a delivery platform that provide targeted delivery of iron without side effects. The platform fulfils the urgent market need which has been reinforced by newly implemented EU regulations, which requires proven efficacy for any food product claims.

The product is in the form of ultrafine powder that is stable on storage, is non-reactive, palatable, and can be reconstituted in water or juices. All substances used in the preparation of these formulations are of approved food or pharmaceutical grade.

Project objectives

The aim of this project is to commercialise our unique, newly developed, micronutrient delivery platform (MDP) for iron absorption, for safe, cost-effective and efficient iron delivery.

This encapsulation formulation provides three major novel aspects:

  1. the encapsulation eliminates physiological obstacles that limit the absorption of all other commercially available free-iron supplements;
  2. the encapsulation prevents side-effects, which result from free-iron in the intestine; 
  3. this capsule provides a site for insertion of cell surface ‘tag(s)’ that can direct and control iron delivery; dietary iron is absorbed in the duodenum part of the small intestine, therefore, to further increase uptake and limit side effects, a ‘tag’ has been inserted on the outer-surface of the capsule to direct and facilitate iron delivery to the duodenum.


This novel formulation, which is based on the last development of nanoparticle science, is the response to iron deficiency: the most common nutritional disorder and the global need of a quarter of the world population. With high absorption and low side effects, our formulation insure compliance with all grousp of comsumers.

With a better absorption than any other product on the market, our iron supplement is a strong competitor for the £4.8M UK market of iron supplement, but also $112 billion vitamins and dietary supplements market.


  • A novel natural origin biopolymer based iron nano-delivery system resistant to nutritional inhibitors. Voni Blesia, Maisha Salam, Mariam Mohamud, Sudesha Wanigaratne, Ivanka Shopova, Abida-Tania Syed, Ghazal Hatami Fard, Petia Apostolova, Sebastien Farnaud, Satyanarayana Somavarapu, Derek Renshaw and Mohammed Gulrez Zariwala. European Iron Club (EIC) 22-23 June 2017, Munster, Germany.
  • A novel in vitro model of simulated twice a day iron supplementation for assessment of iron uptake and cellular damage. MG. Zariwala, V. Blesia, C. Tossou, D. Renshaw, R. Evans, S. Farnaud. Bioiron 2017: Seventh congress of the international Bioiron Society; Biennial World Meeting, May 7 – 11, 2017.
  • Vegetarian origin protein polysaccharide nano sized carriers for food and nutrition applications. Mohammed Gulrez Zariwala, Satyanarayana Somavarapu, Derek Renshaw and Sebastien Farnaud. Vitafoods Europe 2017 - The global nutraceutical event; 8-10 May 2017, Geneva.
  • A novel approach to oral iron delivery using ferrous sulphate loaded solid lipid nanoparticles. Gulrez Zariwala, M., Elsaid, N., Jackson, T.L., Corral López, F., Farnaud, S., Somavarapu, S. and Renshaw, D. 2013. A novel approach to oral iron delivery using ferrous sulphate loaded solid lipid nanoparticles. International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 456 (2), pp. 400-407.
  • A novel human neuronal cell model to study iron accumulation in Parkinson’s Disease. Mehta, K, Ahmed, B and Farnaud, S (2019). Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism. 2019. 9 (1), p. 461.
  • Iron and liver fibrosis: Mechanistic and clinical aspects. Mehta KJ, Farnaud SJ, Sharp PA.World J Gastroenterol. 2019 Feb 7;25(5):521-538.
  • Hydrophobically modified chitosan nanoliposomes for intestinal drug delivery. Zariwala MG, Bendre H, Markiv A, Farnaud S, Renshaw D, Taylor KM, Somavarapu S. Int J Nanomedicine. 2018 Sep 27;13:5837-5848.
  • Comparison study of oral iron preparations using a human intestinal model. Zariwala MG, Somavarapu S, Farnaud S, Renshaw D.Sci Pharm. 2013 Jun 21;81(4):1123-39. doi: Print 2013 Oct-Dec.
  • Ascorbyl palmitate/DSPE-PEG nanocarriers for oral iron delivery: preparation, characterisation and in vitro evaluation. Zariwala MG, Farnaud S, Merchant Z, Somavarapu S, Renshaw D.Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2014 Mar 1;115:86-92.
  • A novel approach to oral iron delivery using ferrous sulphate loaded solid lipid nanoparticles. Zariwala MG, Elsaid N, Jackson TL, Corral López F, Farnaud S, Somavarapu S, Renshaw D. Int J Pharm. 2013 Nov 18;456(2):400-7.
  • Hydrophobically-modified chitosan nanoliposomes for intestinal drug delivery. Zariwala, MG, Bendre H, Markiv A, Farnaud S, Renshaw D, Taylor KMG, Somavarapu S. Int. J. Nanomed. 2018 13: 5837-5848.
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023