For many people looking for ways to treat illness or disease, the first thought is to pop a pill. Taking medication is a reactive approach to disease. But Eric Marcotulli, CEO of Elysium Health, says science is now revealing ways that a proactive approach can stave off disease and bodily decline.
Elysium, a New York-based startup developing health supplements, has turned its scientific study of the aging process into a pill that supports the health of the human body’s cells. Now the company has its eyes on bringing that science into a wider range of applications aimed at promoting healthy bodily function that could help prevent disease rather than treating it.
“Our biologies are natural things, that’s what’s degrading over time,” Marcotulli says. “Natural interventions and natural molecules are likely the things to be most effective.”
Elysium now has $20 million in new funding to expand its natural products research. General Catalyst led the Series B round and was joined by Breyer Capital, Morningside Ventures, and Sound Ventures. Marcotulli declined to say how much the company had raised previously. Earlier investors in Elysium include Jim Manzi, the chairman of Thermo Fisher Scientific and former chairman, president, and CEO of Lotus Development Corp.; biotech venture capitalist Robert Nelsen; and entrepreneur Matthew Mullenweg.
The funding will support a marketing push behind the company’s first product, a supplement pill called Basis. The capital will also support research and clinical testing for additional products that could have potential applications in brain, skin, and structural health (muscles, joints, bones). Marcotulli gave no timeline for when these products could become available, but he says each one will be backed by science and clinical testing. Though Basis launched in early 2015, initial clinical trial results are just now coming to light.
The science behind Basis was developed from the work of Leonard Guarente, a professor of biology at MIT. His research discovered the role that a protein called sirtuin plays in cellular health. In order to work, sirtuins require a co-enzyme called NAD+, says Guarente, the chief scientific officer and co-founder of Elysium. But NAD+ levels decline during aging, which leads to sirtuins becoming inactive. This inactivity affects cellular processes for metabolism and making energy.
“When NAD+ levels drop, things stop working well inside of cells,” Guarente says.
Basis contains two natural ingredients that together support NAD+ production. The first is nicotinamide riboside, or NR, a molecule that is found in milk. The second is pterostilbene, or PT, which is found in blueberries. PT is closely related to … Next Page »