Chromadex CEO: ‘We think Niagen has a much bigger market, like omega-3’

HPN's N(R) product to support neuroprotection in contact sports - the only commercial product currently available, but more are coming, says Frank Jaksch.

The potential of nicotinamide riboside, the next generation vitamin B3, goes beyond dietary supplements, into functional food and beverages, medical foods, infant nutrition and more, says the CEO of Chromadex.

Chromadex’s Niagen-branded nicotinamide riboside ingredient is currently available in only one product – High Performance Nutrition’s (HPN) N(R) product to support neuroprotection in contact sports – but more products are on the way, Frank Jaksch, CEO of Chromadex, told NutraIngredients-USA.

Thorne Research is in the process of launching of products, having agreed a three-year marketing deal to take Niagen into a series of first-to-market products for the healthcare-practitioner channel. The agreement, worth at least $3.5 million, gives Thorne Research the marketing rights for Niagen for use in nutritional supplements exclusively for the direct to healthcare-practitioner channel in the US and Canada. Thorne Research will also collaborate with ChromaDex on future human clinical trials of Niagen.

And most significantly, in a deal worth a potential $62 million over four years, Chromadex granted 5LINX the marketing rights for Niagen for use in dietary supplements exclusively in the network marketing sales channel in the United States, Canada and Philippines. 

“We see the dietary supplement market as the starting point,” said Jaksch, “and we think Niagen has a much bigger market, like omega-3.” Ultimately, the company sees a range of products from supplements to food and beverages, medical foods, and infant formula.

IP

NR is found naturally in trace amounts in milk and other foods, and is a more potent, no-flush version of Niacin (vitamin B3). Published research has shown that NR is a potent precursor to NAD+ in the mitochondria of animals. NAD+ is an important cellular co-factor for improvement of mitochondrial performance and energy metabolism.

“NR is not just another vitamin B3,” said Jaksch. “It’s different from niacin and niacinamide.”

The beneficial effects of NR in humans include increased fatty acid oxidation, mitochondrial activity, resistance to negative consequences of high-fat diets, protection against oxidative stress, prevention of peripheral neuropathy and blocking muscle degeneration.

Irvine, CA-based Chromadex has been accumulating the IP surrounding nicotinamide riboside (NR) for a couple of years, having licensed patents from Cornell University, Dartmouth College, and Washington University in St Louis.

Numerous academic institutions are researching the potential health benefits of the ingredient, including Scripps, the Mayo Clinic, ULB Brussels, Queen’s University Belfast, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, and Iowa, and Jaksch said the company is in discussion with about 6 others. The focus of the research is primarily using NR for nutrition for different therapeutic endpoints.

“We’re in a great position,” said Jaksch, “because we are the only company with an NAD precursor.”

“And with all the research going on, we have a steady flow of publications from high profile people,” he added.

Among these high profile people is David Sinclair from Harvard University, who did so much to boost the anti-aging of resveratrol into the mainstream. Dr Sinclair’s published findings from a mouse study in Cell at the end of 2013 (Vol. 155, pp. 1625-1638, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.037), which concluded that, “raising NAD+ levels in old mice restores mitochondrial function to that of a young mouse in a SIRT1-dependent manner”.

SIRT1 is a cellular protein that plays a major role in mitochondrial biogenesis, glucose regulation and protection against age-related disease.

“We underestimated the benefit of that December 19 publication,” said Jaksch. “Our stock traded unbelievably on the Monday before Christmas because there were people drawing a link between Chromadex’s NAD precursor and Sinclair’s study.”

The science to date has remained non-clinical, but Jaksch said the first clinical trial with the ingredient has just started.

If the reaction to a cell study about NAD+ can boost the company’s stock, it remains to be seen what a positive clinical trial will do. 

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