Can the fountain of youth be found in the form of a pill? That’s what startup Elysium Health believes.
The company is led by its chief scientist and co-founder, Leonard Guarente, who heads the anti-aging center at MIT. It’s through his research and direction that Elysium is banking on this product having a positive impact on extending the lives of people who take the supplement. The company’s lead product is called Basis, which Elysium says is used for metabolic repair and optimization. On its website, the company said science is enabling the company to focus on “the cellular level to achieve optimal health, beyond what can be accomplished with diet and exercise.” Its product Basis is designed to optimize NAD+ levels and sirtuin function in cells to support several metabolic processes, such as cellular detoxification, DNA repair and energy production.
The active ingredients in Basis pterostilbene and NR are naturally occurring substances, which has allowed the company to bypass regulation from the Food and Drug Administration and market the product. That doesn’t mean Guarente wants the company to avoid scientific research. On the contrary. In an interview with New York Magazine, Guarente said he insists the company conduct human trials and testing on the product.
“Never, ever, make a claim that’s not substantiated by evidence,” he said, according to the magazine.
Elysium has an impressive leadership team, particularly the six Nobel Laureates on its scientific advisory team. Despite the scientific pedigree of its team, there are skeptics about whether or not the supplements will benefit one’s health in the long-run and extend life. In a 2015 interview with Business Day Live, Guarente said it would take decades to show the supplement had anti-aging qualities.
The quest for an anti-aging product is nothing new. Last year pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NVS)noted the bacterial agent rapamycin, which was originally discovered on Easter Island, has shown promise in blocking the genetics of aging and aging-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. A 2014 Novartis study of rapamycin showed that elderly patients ages 65 and up showed a 20 percent improvement in their immune response after being given an influenza vaccine. Additionally, the study showed the reduction of PD-1 receptors in patients, which inhibits T-cell signaling.
Novartis isn’t the only company to seek a “fountain of youth” drug solution. Other pharmaceutical companies have attempted to defy the aging process, including a $720 million gamble by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that did not pan out. That drug, resveratrol, was acquired from Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a company that Guarente was involved with. More recently Calico, aGoogle (GOOG) science division specifically targeted at aging, has partnered with Illinois-based AbbVie (ABBV)to reverse engineer the biological aging process in people. The $500 million partnership is slated for a 10-year period to advance its experimental drugs through Phase IIa studies and small mid-stage trials that will establish a likelihood the drugs may work in larger studies.
The company has also set up various relationships with companies like AncestryDNA, the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, California, the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California’s QB3 institute.