From Italy to the USA: The spin-off company MAGISNAT for the research on the Mediterranean Diet and Rare Food Disorders

Interview of Dottor Matteo Bertelli

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, at Press Room of the Chamber of Deputies, Rome

On June 23rd, 2022 at 4:00 pm (Italy, CEST) and 10:00 am (Atlanta, GMT-4) at the Press Room of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (Rome) will be held the press conference for the presentation of MagisNat, the innovative spin-off of MAGI group in America.
We must take a moment to appreciate the importance of the location chosen to host this event: the Chamber of Deputies is the largest official organ of the Italian government after Palazzo Chigi (seat of the Council of Ministers and official residence of the Prime Minister of Italy). Most relevantly, this is the first time its Press Room has been involved in sponsoring an event of this kind: the birth of an Italian research spin-off in America that promotes the Mediterranean diet, the scientific research of natural molecules, the creation of food supplements to help those who cannot follow a healthy Mediterranean diet, and for the export of typical products of the Italian culinary culture.
The American seat of the spin-off MagisNat is in Atlanta Tech Park: it was chosen because Georgia is one of the few American regions where it is possible to grow olive trees, from which olive oil is produced. Moreover, in Atlanta there is one of the major institutes focused on researching the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet, Emory University.
The project also aims to sell two food supplements: the first, based on Hydroxytyrosol and Alpha-Cyclodextrin, to be taken orally; while the second, based on Hydroxytyrosol and vitamins (group B, C and D), in the form of tablets.
The most important feature that unites and makes these two supplements unique is the presence of hydroxytyrosol. It is an olive polyphenol whose application is being studied as an inhibitor of the 5-lipoxygenase, which is responsible for the production of leukotriene B4, an inflammatory molecule whose levels increase in organisms suffering from acute and chronic diseases.
Hydroxytyrosol also has an antioxidant effect and recent studies have shown that it benefits the intestinal microbiota and the oral cavity.
For several years, many Anglo-American researchers have been researching the application of natural molecules in the prevention of various diseases and in improving people’s health in everyday life.
Among them, we need to mention some important names: Professor Stephen T. Connelly from the University of San Francisco, California, who has developed several patents in the field of oral diseases and recently is approaching the study of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s;
Professor Peng Jin (Department of Human Genetics of the School of Medicine at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia) and Professor Pietro Chiurazzi (Medical Genetics at “A. Gemelli ” University Hospital, Rome, Italy), who are dealing with neurodegenerative diseases and, in this context, have agreed to carry out research on animal models for the study of polyphenols from olive trees. In particular, these issues will be the subject of studies and work projects between the new spin-off MagisnNat and the Department of Genetics of Emory University.
Furthermore, other honorable mentions are Professor Benedetto Falsini and Professor John Paul SanGiovanni, who are involved in the research of micronutritional factors in retinal diseases. Specifically, from an initial study it would appear that, if the genetic defects underlying retinal dystrophy are the same, a lower caloric intake of micronutrients can change the evolution of the disease.
Another relevant figure is Professor Sandro Michelini who, together with Professor Karen L. Herbst, is working on pathologies that are the contributing cause of lymphedema and unbalanced diet. Hence, the need to carry out researches on natural molecules that can help fight these diseases in the American population.
Also Professor Andrea Cusumano, who established a foundation on rare diseases in the United States, and Doctor Andrea Bottaro, who for several years has been committed to promoting and certifying typical Italian foods in foreign markets (for example: high quality wine and olive oil), proved to be important for this project. Furthermore, Doctor Bottaro did not fail to point out how food can be a vehicle of toxic substances or depleted of micronutrients, thus negatively affecting even healthy people: the objective of exporting foods of Italian origin is the safety and certification of products with high nutritional contents.
Professor Amerigo Iaconelli (Department of Internal Medicine at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy) is also helping in developing this project, thanks to his experience in managing patients suffering from metabolic syndrome, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, osteoporosis, and obesity, and also in managing pre- and post-bariatric patients.
Finally we need to cite the promoter of this initiative, Doctor Matteo Bertelli. Thanks to the help of important experts in the field, of the business plan created specifically for this new reality, of the start-up in the USA and to the help of the services of Atlanta Tech Park, he built a project that combines development and research with the promotion of natural molecules and the Mediterranean diet.
As a result, MagisNat creates a strong connection between research and marketing, with the aim of responding to two main needs:
1_ to find funds in order to finance scientific research on molecules of natural origin, typical of the Mediterranean diet;
2_ to purchase polyphenol extracts from olive trees and other titrated extracts of the active ingredient typical of the Mediterranean diet.
Doctor Bertelli’s dreams are many and they also extend to cultural projects, always with the Mediterranean diet as the main topic. Another interesting and important project he wishes to develop is the opening of a cooking school in the USA, specialized in the culinary culture at the basis of the Mediterranean diet, as it is essential to help and teach hospitalizes people suffering from eating disorders also how to cook dishes that will help their health journey.
The eating disorders that are dealt with by the researches of MAGI group are not only obesity and lymphedema, but also anorexia and bulimia: MAGI is already developing a project on this matter, from which it is hoped to obtain excellent results.
As the old saying goes, “We are what we eat”. Today we might rephrase it, more humbly, that nutrition can affect health and no prevention is possible without considering food. The project focuses on scientific research and, in particular, on the importance of physical activity: studies conducted on the Mediterranean diet have shown that a Mediterranean lifestyle is not only linked to a low-calorie, mainly plant-based diet, but it has the most beneficial effects when combined with daily physical activity.
The Mediterranean diet, therefore, can become truly effective when complemented by considerable physical activity: this great combination brings benefits also on a mental level, improving different skills, such as artistic and musical ones.
Among the many wishes of Doctor Bertelli there is also the idea to establish the so-called Tafelmusik (“table music”) in the United States. This tradition, which was very well known and popular in Italy in the last century, consists of accompanying lunches and/or dinners with classical music, which has been shown to have very good effects on nutrition: this kind of experience leads people to enjoy what they are eating, chewing more slowly and thus bettering their digestion and state of mind. Too many people nowadays eat fast, without even noticing what they are ingesting, and too many people have started developing eating disorders. For this reason, these changes in lifestyle aspects can make people acquire greater awareness of the importance of nutrition and of their physical well-being.
To conclude, Magisnat is a very promising spin-off that will hopefully be successful and that can take hold and develop in the best possible way, managing to reach its research and turnover objectives already in its first year of activity.
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