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Researcher Defends Vitamin K2 Doctoral Thesis

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PhD candidate supported by a research grant awarded to NattoPharma (now Gnosis by Lesaffre) attains his degree, continues to build evidence of K2 cardiovascular and bone benefits.


MARCQ-EN-BAROEUL, FRANCE AND EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (10 MAR 2022) – PhD candidate Grzegorz Wasilewski defended his thesis on February 22, 2022, at Maastricht University, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), The Netherlands. His work was supported by funding from the Norwegian Research Council and a research grant awarded to NattoPharma ASA (now Gnosis by Lesaffre). 


The thesis, “Calcium Paradox – the role of vitamin K in the bone-vascular axis”1, highlighted the published work Wasilewski has done in conjunction with and under the leadership of Prof. Leon Schurgers, Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification and Vice-Chair of Biochemistry at CARIM, Maastricht University. This research includes an important review paper2, an in-vivo study exploring the combination of phosphate binder therapy with vitamin K2 to inhibit vascular calcification in kidney patients3, and an in-vitro study examining the impact of K2 as MK-7 supplementation in osteogenesis4 


“Scientists from Maastricht University have recently shown that combining vitamin K2 with phosphate binder treatment reduces vasculature and cartilage calcification. Additionally, they also discovered a novel role of vitamin K2 in beneficially affecting osteoblast maturation from induced pluripotent stem cells. Their findings might be clinically relevant for chronic kidney disease patients and for those seeking stem-cell therapies,” Wasilwski said in his defense. 


“With these discoveries, we are a step closer towards management of vascular calcification in chronic kidney disease patients. Using our novel experimental animal model of chronic kidney disease and vitamin K-deficiency demonstrates the beneficial role of combining phosphate binders with vitamin K2 in reducing vascular calcification compared to phosphate binders alone,” he added, noting that future clinical trials are needed to address whether vitamin K2 needs to be implemented in standard treatment therapy with phosphate binders. “Further, we have discovered a novel non-canonical role of vitamin K2 in aiding collagen synthesis in our iPSC model of osteoblast differentiation. Our results are fascinating as it changes the perspective on how MK-7 can impact skeletal disorders as well as paving the way for stem cell-based personalized therapy.” 


Since 2004, NattoPharma has worked closely with the Maastricht University in documenting benefits of the company’s exclusive vitamin K2 as MK-7 brand MenaQ7®. The research grant awarded to the NattoPharma International Research Network provided training in innovative therapeutic strategies that include MenaQ7, integrating early detection and prevention, to yield novel approaches to the management of chronic vascular and metabolic diseases that affect the increasing aging population of Western societies.  


Wasilewski was under the supervision of Prof. Leon Schurgers, a co-leader in the multidisciplinary research project together with Dr. Hogne Vik, Chief Medical officer at NattoPharma (now Gnosis by Lesaffre). This project is emblematic of NattoPharma’s continuation of the multi-year vitamin K2 research partnership with CARIM (as announced in 2020), to which Gnosis by Lesaffre has committed.  


“We are honored to have had the opportunity to support this distinguished researcher, and to see him come through this program making a substantial contribution to the argument that Vitamin K2 as MK-7 can indeed change the face of global health,” says Dr. Vik. “This work is so important as we continue to build an unshakeable science-based argument for Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is an essential nutrient worthy of its own Recommended Daily Intake (RDI), but also as a potential therapy for patient populations who express excessive calcification as a symptom of their condition.” 


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