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Longevity Medicine

Mass Market Age Mitigation?
By JuveNews - December 2, 2002
Dec 15, 2002, 12:39pm

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Mass Market Age Mitigation?
Nestle, the Swiss consumer products company, has just been applied for a patent for a food and supplement formulation that (the patent application suggests) reverses many of the effects of aging, and extends both healthspan and longevity of animals (and likely humans). The patent application (WO 02/071874), "Composition improving age-related physiological deficits and increasing longevity" is from Nestle's research group based in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is, to our knowledge, the first patent application for a product that claims to increase longevity of mammals. While there have been many studies suggesting that these supplements are beneficial in health maintainance, this patent is the first report comparing gene expression of mammals taking these supplements to mammals on a calorie restriction (CR) program. In a surprise to many people, it appears that the Acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR) /Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) supplement combination may be the first commercially available CR mimetic (i.e., it mimics or copies the effects of calorie restriction, a process that is well known to significantly increase lifespan, and reduce disease in virtually all animals on which it has been tested). If the gene expression profile created by ALCAR/ALA is very similar to that produced by calorie restriction it is a strong indicator that the health benefits and lifespan increases that are typical of CR will be achieved in mammals via these compounds. We feel these results strongly support advancement to a direct study in mammals of the effect of ALCAR/ALA on longevity.
A reasonable skeptic might question the quality of aging research coming from a consumer products company more famous for their high fructose corn syrup concoctions (e.g., chocolate) than biology of aging knowledge. Furthermore, the research described in the patent has not yet been released in any peer-reviewed format. However, the diligent reader of JuveNews will recognize that Nestle/Purina was recently in the news for another important aging research result: the 14-year caloric restriction study performed with dogs. In fact, Nestle has an experienced group of researchers focused on nutrition and aging, and the company has also contracted with gene expression microarray experts. (Rumor has it that a leader in the field � Richard Weindruch, of the University of Wisconsin � has been a significant contributor in their CR gene expression research efforts.) Therefore we tend to believe that the patent is based on sound research. Nestle may in fact be the leading commercial organization in the field of CR � and their experience in this area suggests that they know what they are talking about when they say that their formulation mimics the effects of CR. In fact, the news doesn't come as a complete surprise if you've reviewed the vast number of studies on ALCAR/ALA that are available on PubMed and the patent is very reminiscent of one obtained by Bruce Ames (UC Berkeley) last February.
For researchers, companies and investors focused on this new market the news of these developments is very positive. We anticipate that a powerful consumer company like Nestle will, when their first products based on this new research are finally announced, dramatically raise public awareness of these significant new developments in the biology of aging. Broad consumer news coverage will feed the rapidly growing public interest in the field and fuel the expectations for further progress. This will further increase the demand for the more effective pharmaceuticals that are currently under development in a broad number of age-mitigation startup companies.
For consumers, we anticipate that the actual longevity increase offered by this combination of vitamin supplements will be modest. However, the ALCAR/ALA supplement combination may have a significant impact on the "healthspan" of animals/pets and people by delaying many of the infirmities of old age. For example, we've already heard that Sigma Tau (one of the manufacturers of ALCAR) has started Phase III clinical trials for the supplement, targeted at reducing or delaying the incidence of Alzheimers. What remains to be determined is the longer term optimal dosage for larger animals and humans of ALCAR/ALA. The optimal dosage for mice frequently does not translate directly to human dosages (in terms of mg/kilo of body weight), so it seems that this may be an opportunity for the NIA (National Institute on Aging) to step in and do the long-term safety and gene expression tests with human subjects taking higher doses of ALCAR/ALA, perhaps as a simultaneous and comparative program to that of the recently initiated human CR program. Studies to date with ALCAR and ALA typically have not exceeded 3g/day for 3 to 6 months, so the longer term effects of human doses higher than that are unknown (and therefore not recommended).
The Nestle patent applicatoin is one small but important step that suggests that the age-mitigation science and market is very close to being ready for prime time. With over 76 million people over the age of 40 in the USA alone, the market will be vast and highly lucrative for the new biotech startups in this field. The rapidly growing scientific proof that aging is a process that we can control will boost the level of investment in the field and increase the pace of therapeutic developments. Stay tuned... this market is starting to get very interesting.
Brian


Age-Mitigating Compound Patented; Nestle Obtains Patent for Food Formulation That Reverses the Effects of Aging in People and Pets (European Patent Office) The Juvensa Group has learned that, in internal laboratory testing Nestle has successfully extended the longevity and healthspan of animals using a compound combination first identified to be age-mitigating by Bruce Ames of UC Berkeley last year. The Nestle patent states that the ALCAR/ALA (plus other vitamins) mimics the (gene expression) effects of caloric restriction without limiting food intake. The formulation, claims Nestle, "can prevent or delay mitochondrial dysfunction occurring during aging by modulating and/or regulating expression of genes linked to energy metabolism. It can also provide multiple benefits by improving age-related functional deficits in skeletal and cardiac muscle function, vascular function, cognitive function, vision, hearing, olfaction, skin and coat quality, bone and joint health, renal health, gut function, immune function, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory processes, cancer incidence and ultimately longevity in pets" (and presumably humans). The good news for consumers is that all the ingredients for this food composition that Nestle has patented are available individually on the open market today. For consumers interested in taking these supplements, we recommend that they only purchase from vitamin manufacturers who follow GMP standards.

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