Indian start-up Nugenics Research to commercialise “Elixir” after showing 54% age reversal in animal study.
The topic of using blood plasma to address human longevity is always a controversial one, and companies like Alkahest and Ambrosia are never far from the headlines. Last week, a preliminary report, that has not been peer-reviewed was posted online – it appears to show some astonishing results in rats for a young blood plasma treatment known only as “Elixir”.
Longevity.Technology: Normally we don’t cover research unless it has been peer-reviewed, however, with Steve Horvath as an author and David Sinclair commenting so actively on Twitter, we figured it was worth making a few calls…
The results, using Horvath epigenetic clocks, showed an average age reversal across four tissues of 54.2%. Specifically, rejuvenation of liver tissue was measured at 75%, blood at 66%, heart at 57% and hypothalamus at 19%.
The paper’s authors include recognised Longevity academics, such as UCLA’s Steve Horvath and Harold Katcher from the University of Maryland. We caught up with Katcher, who is also co-founder of Nugenics Research, an India-based start-up created to commercialise Elixir for human use.
Katcher tells us that, following treatment with Elixir, the “two-year-old rats showed the characteristics of rats half their age, by all the age-related traits we could measure (and we used more than 30 different assays), but it was Steven Horvath’s DNAm clock that was the most significant to us, as it is often considered the ‘gold standard’ of age-determination. It meant that these observed changes in apparent age reflected changes occurring deep within the organism’s cells.”
“I figured out how to gather all the factors required to rejuvenate our rats into a single product … Once it is revealed, Elixir will start a tsunami of new research.”
Although reluctant to reveal many details about Elixir at this stage because “patents hang in the balance,” Katcher tells us that the basic idea came from a 2005 study at Stanford, which showed that factors present in young blood could rejuvenate a variety of stem and progenitor cells. 
“I figured out how to gather all the factors required to rejuvenate our rats into a single product,” he says. “I gave our final product the running title of ‘elixir’ – after the ‘elixir vitae’ of the ancients. Elixir has been described as a ‘plasma fraction’ but that would be inadequate as it is the unique product of a unique process (though its constituents are all present in young plasma). Once it is revealed, Elixir will start a tsunami of new research (including our own).”
Bear in mind that this paper is a preprint and has not, as yet, been certified by peer review, but the wider Longevity community has taken an interest in the paper’s findings. Of particular note, Harvard University’s David Sinclair took to social media to share his thoughts.
“The result is so literally incredible that even the first author, Prof. Steve Horvath, didn’t believe it at first,” said Sinclair in an extensive thread on Twitter. “I suggested he check if the rats were mixed up, but he assured me he checked their genomes. The rats weren’t mixed up and the data is the data.”
“So are the result believable?” asks Sinclair. “I see nothing wrong with the epigenetic clock analyses, the stats – Horvath is the best there is. It’s also hard to see how the other measures could be messed up.”
The University of Liverpool’s João Pedro Magalhães raised a note of caution.
“My concern with blood rejuvenating factors is that they may also contribute to cancer,” he said on Twitter. “We’ve known for decades of factors in blood (growth hormone) that can improve function in the short term but are detrimental long term (eg. cancer).”
So, what next for Nugenics and Elixir? Katcher’s co-founder Akshay Sanghavi tells us that the company is now hoping to raise up to $50 million to fund its FDA applications.
“We are in the process of setting up a lab in the Bay Area, California,” he says. “We have planned trials with dogs and possibly marmosets.“