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Lehi supplement firm launches research lab

LEHI — The nutritional supplement industry is big business in Utah and worldwide, and a local company is now using technology to develop what it claims will be scientifically improved products.

Lehi-based Nature’s Sunshine on Friday opened its new laboratory facility that will utilize a technology to allow herbs to be more effectively matched with an individual’s chemical makeup.

The Hughes Center for Research and Innovation employs technology to better understand how the body and nutritional supplements work to support better overall health. The 5,400-square-foot, multimillion-dollar facility includes laboratories and clinical space, along with exam rooms for consultations and clinical studies.

Among the advanced equipment company scientists will use is the Flexmap3D, a device that provides critical, broad-based biochemical information in just minutes, said chief scientific officer Matthew Tripp. Additional technology provides rapid quantitative analysis of chemicals in herbal samples that previously was not readily available to researchers.

“The Flexmap3D can analyze 500 analytes, such as genes and proteins, from a single human sample such as a drop of blood,” he said. “With this machine, 144,000 data points can be analyzed in one hour, which provides rapid quantitative analyses of various biomarkers.”

Tripp said the company uses natural herbs to develop products that aid in addressing health concerns due to “diet induced illnesses.”

He noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 34 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome and are three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, he explained.

“Twenty-five percent of the world has metabolic syndrome,” Tripp said. “In the U.S., it’s worse.”

Globally, 39 percent of adults were overweight in 2014, and 13 percent were obese, the CDC stated. Additionally, heart disease is a factor in over 30 percent of all deaths.

Tripp said the company is working to develop more natural compounds in products that can help people maintain a healthier balance in their regular diets and therefore improve their overall health.

“If we have targeted nutrition — tablets, capsules, etc. — with the right (natural compounds) in them, we believe we can help mediate those effects (of insufficient nutritional balance),” he said.

Dr. Joseph Lamb, Hughes Center medical director, said the company expects to make significant strides in the realm of nutritional innovation using the latest technology and proven scientific research.

“There is a leading edge of science that is going to lead us to better health, and we are part of that leading edge,” Lamb said.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1