By TLB Contributor: Susanne Posel
Elysium Health (EH), founded by Leonard Guarente, a biologist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), claims to bring “together Nobel Prize winning scientists, thought leading researchers, technologists and MDs to develop the most advanced products for” living forever.
By “tweaking the body’s metabolism” this corporation hopes to slow down “the process of aging”.
Guarente explained : “The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to prove, in any reasonable time frame, that drugs that extend the lifespan of animals can do the same in people; such an experiment could take decades.”
EH is focused on the burgeoning industry called nutraceuticals, “which don’t require clinical trials or approval” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A nutraceutical is “food, or parts of food, that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.”
• Dietary supplements such as Gingsing, Gingko Biloba, Saint John’s Wort, Saw Palmetto
• Functional foods such as oats, prebiotics, Omega-3s, Canola oil
• Medicinal foods such as transgenic cows and plants for oral vaccination or health bars with added medications
EH has produced a blue pill called Basis that claims to keep the user young; although Guarente makes no guarantee that this nutraceutical will work.
Basis contains the “chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a compound that cells use to carry out metabolic reactions like releasing energy from glucose. The compound is believed cause some effects similar to a diet that is severely short on calories—a proven way to make a mouse live longer.”
This belief, although not proven, is the sales pitch point for EH.
Their marketing strategy includes lessons Guarente learned from working with Sirtis Pharmeceuticals (SP), a biotechnology corporation “that studied resveratrol, an anti-aging compound found in red wine that it hoped would help patients with diabetes.”
Guarente sold SP to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for $750 million in 2013.
In the mid-2000s, SP was studying “resveratrol and alter it into a more potent form that could be patented and developed into a medical drug.”
Through acquiring SP, GSK is “taking scientific findings about how we age and translating them into drugs that treat specific age-related diseases” because the FDA “doesn’t recognize aging itself as a condition”.
With his new bio-natural corporation, Guarente has employed a venture capitalist to be their chief executive officer in order to ensure that their “strict pharmaceutical-quality production standards”, albeit self-generated, will produce customer confidence in their product.
Guarente commented: “You have high-end prescription drugs up here, which are expensive. And you have the nutraceuticals down there, which are a pig in a poke—you don’t know what you’re getting and you don’t know a lot about the science behind them. There’s this vast space in between that could be filled in a way that’s useful for health maintenance.”
Anti-aging is a $20 billion industry with many claims and little results.
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