Medical Innovations

IHAT (Iron Hydroxide Adipate Tartrate) a Nano-Fe(III) ferritin-mimetic that respects the physiology of natural iron

Iron is required for multiple vital functions.  It is a key component of haemoglobin, carrying oxygen from lungs to tissue; it is part of the transport mechanism for electrons within cells and facilitates oxygen enzyme reactions. Iron deficiency (ID) occurs when a body either does not absorb enough iron to supply its needs or loses iron through blood loss.

Iron deficiency can be caused by malnutrition, bleeding, or chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), chronic kidney disease (CKD), women’s health and congestive heart failure (CHF).

Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia (iron deficiency anaemia or IDA).

ID/IDA can be treated with oral or IV iron replacement.  However, current oral treatments are not well tolerated and negatively impact the gut microbiome of patients.

Many conventional oral iron supplements are based on ferrous iron or ferric iron forms, which which have been associated with quite a number of gastrointestinal side effects, including disrupting the gut microbiome.1,2 In fact, most supplements provide large amounts of iron of which only a small fraction is absorbed and reaches the blood circulation, while the majority stays in the gut, where it can be redox-reactive and facilitates microbiome imbalance.

In contrast, dietary ferritin, the natural ferric iron [Fe(III)] storage protein in plants and animals, is well absorbed within the enterocytes by endocytosis. It does not release free iron on the intestinal lining and as such, does not exert negative impact on the gut microbiome.

IHAT is a ferritin mimetic, where a tartrate salt is used to “dope” the ferrihydrite nanocore of ferritin, in an adipate buffer.  IHAT is  well absorbed and preserves the gut microbiome. Absorption studies and early nutritional trials in human have shown that IHAT is absorbed efficiently and corrects markers of iron deficiency, without the burden of gastrointestinal side effects. Listen to Dr Nuno Faria (one of our Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board) explain this on this video.

Our IHAT-Nano-Fe(III) product is able to closely mimic normal iron absorption in the gut. Similarly to what is proposed for ferritin, IHAT is absorbed as whole nanoparticles by enterocytes (the intestinal absorptive cells) and unlike many conventional iron supplements does not require solubilisation in the stomach prior to its uptake. This means that the unabsorbed fraction, which is usually at least 70% of all ingested oral iron, irrespective of the form, remains nanoparticulate and no ‘free’ iron is released along the gastrointestinal tract thus minimizing adverse impacts on the patient’s gut microbiome. Once absorbed, the iron delivered by IHAT follows the normal homeostatic pathways for iron handling in the body.

The development of IHAT is well underway and we were the first company to file a nano iron [IHAT nano-ferric (III)] for approval by the European Food Safety Authority.


  1. (accessed 27th July 2020)
  2. Simonyté Sjödin K, Domellöf M, Lagerqvist C, et al. Administration of ferrous sulfate drops has significant effects on the gut microbiota of iron-sufficient infants: a randomised controlled study: Gut 2019;68:2095-2097.