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Thursday January 8 2:54 PM EST

Biotech firm markets appetite-suppressing yoghurt

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - A British biotech company joined ranks with a Swedish dairy Thursday to launch a new yoghurt which they claim will revolutionize calorie control by reducing appetite.

The yoghurt called Maval contains a new food product dubbed Olibra which Scotia Holding Plc claims will naturally suppress appetite by producing a sense of satiety, or fullness. The feeling lasts up to six hours and reduces the temptation to snack.

Olibra contains no synthetic components or drugs.

Although it will be launched first in the new range of yoghurts by Skanemejerier, one of Sweden's largest dairies, Scotia said it can be used in a wide variety of food products including milk, juices and cheeses.

"It is a different approach to calorie control," Scotia's David Horrobin told a news conference.

Instead of drugs that suppress appetite or inhibit fat digestion which can cause serious side effects, he said Olibra produces satiety by activating sensors in the small intestine which release compounds called peptides that tell the brain you are full.

Scotia identified the components of food that activate the satiety mechanism and formulated them in a way to deliver it to the small intestine.

"It switches on a normal process slightly faster," explained Robert Dow, Scotia's chief executive.

Olibra is a patent-protected emulsion of palm oil, containing fat lipids or triglycerides, oat oil and water. Because it is completely natural the company said it is unlikely to produce any side effects, although long-term tests have not been conducted.

"Side effects are a remote possibility," Horrobin responded when questioned about the issue.

To coincide with the launch, Dr. Barbara Livingstone, a nutritionist at The University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland revealed the results of a controlled study she conducted of yoghurt containing Olibra.

Twenty-nine non-obese people, 15 women and 14 men, took part in the study. Each subject ate a defined breakfast and the yoghurt containing Olibra or a placebo for lunch on two days. They were allowed their choice of food for dinner which researchers carefully weighed.

Livingstone and her team found that the total calorie intake was reduced by 16 percent by the yoghurt containing Olibra. Protein intake fell by only 12.5 percent and fat intake dropped 22.5 percent.

"Three-quarters of the total sample responded to the test yoghurt to varying degrees," she told the news conference.

She stressed that the yoghurt is designed to reduce calorie intake but it is not meant to relieve obesity.

After the launch in Sweden, Scotia hopes to market the product internationally and said

Scotia's stock, traded in London, gained almost 7.5 percent.

The shares are recovering after heavy falls last month when Britain's Medicines Controls Agency rejected the company's appeal for approval of its Tarbetic drug, developed to treat nerve damage caused by diabetes.