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. The Washington patent related to the use of NR for the prevention or treatment of neuropathies caused by axon degeneration.
Frank Jaksch, founder and CEO of ChromaDex, told us that there is data showing that taking NR in advance of neuronal or axon trauma may prevent damage to the axon. The ingredient has clear potential in sports nutrition where the prevalence of repeated blows to the head in contact sports such as football, soccer and hockey has raised the concern of scientists, public officials, athletes and parents.
HPN’s product, called N(R), will be launched at the upcoming National Athletic Trainer's Association 64th Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposia.
Thinking about brain protection
"N(R) addresses the recent discovery that protection from brain injury should start off the field before it continues on the field with barriers such as helmets," said Sean Torbati, CEO and president of HPN.
"About three million children younger than 14 play organized tackle football in the United States, not to mention the millions playing competitively in high school, college and beyond, as well as the millions more engaging in other sports in which helmets are worn such as baseball, lacrosse, hockey or even horseback riding.
“Recent findings that athletes playing soccer are also at risk for brain injury further demonstrates the potential for N(R) to be used by athletes worldwide."
Jaksch added: "HPN is forging into a new and innovative market with N(R) by aiming to prevent or delay axonal degeneration before trauma even occurs.
“Backed by scientific evidence and patented nutrition technology [US7776326], N(R) is poised to revolutionize how players of contact sports think about potentially protecting themselves in the long run.”
NR is a naturally occurring vitamin B3 (niacin) derivative, which is found in trace amounts in milk and other foods and is a more potent version of niacin.
Chromadex previously licensed the technology to synthesize the molecule in commercial quantities, and Jaksch said the company feels comfortable with the manufacturing side.
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.
Researchers have shown that NR enhances levels of NAD in the mitochondria of animals. “NR is probably the most effective precursor of NAD+,” said Jaksch. NAD+ is arguably the most important cellular co-factor for improvement of mitochondrial performance and energy metabolism. NR serves a different pathway than other B3 forms, he said, which is a recycle pathway and the most effective way of enhancing NAD+.
Mitochondria also play an important part in the aging process. It is hoped that by stimulating mitochondrial function with the NR molecule, scientists may see increased longevity as well as other health improvements.
Jaksch confirmed that more product launches containing Niagen were imminent, and the company expects “quite a few commercially products containing the ingredient to be available by the end of the year”.
Beyond sports, Chromadex is also interested in going to the military, where traumatic brain injury has emerged as an important concern.