Called Reginator, the ingredient, marketed by Zanda LLC, is a blend of amino acids whose main value proposition is the precise ratio between the constituents. Research at the University of Arkansas, by Dr. Robert Wolfe, PhD led to the development of the patented blend. It’s first application was for burn victims who cannot move much during recovery, but the data behind the ingredient also piqued the interest of NASA, which saw it as a way to support the maintenance of muscle for astronauts in lengthy stays in zero-G.
Dr. Wolfe, a professor of geriatrics in the Arkansas School of Medicine, has done many years of research into the effects of protein supplementation on older adults, in particular how protein quality affects these outcomes. He has also done a significant amount of research on some of the baseline parameters of geriatrics, such as how extended enforced bed rest affects these subjects.
Wolfe’s research led to a patented blend of all of the essential amino acids. Getting the ratios just right was the key, said Zanda CEO John Alkire.
“Dr. Wolfe spent his whole life working in amino acids. When he was working with children in the burn unit, they were recovering, but they couldn’t move. He came up with just the right combination of amino acids that could stimulate muscle growth without exercise,” Alkire told NutraIngredients-USA.
“The best thing about the product is that it can do this at a low dosage,” he said.
Alkire said Dr. Wolfe’s research that the efficiency of muscle protein synthesis is determined by a specific ratio of amino acids. Too much of an amino acid can cause oxidation which lessens the effect while too little of an amino causes the body to steal or scavenge the required amino acid from muscles or organs. Over a research period of 20 years, Dr. Wolfe perfected the ratios of amino acids for optimal muscle protein synthesis.
Branded ingredient model
Alkire said the new ingredient is part of Zanda’s development model, in which seeks out ingredients supported by academic research. It helps to avoid the commoditization that seems to be the inevitable end game of so many ingredient categories. Reginator represents just the tip of the iceberg. The company, which has been in existence for about five years, has been developing a variety of branded ingredients for joint health, immune support, weight management and other condition targets.
“I started out in the industry with AHD International, which I founded. I launched several products there, the best known of which is SAMe. I started then to focus on patented products. I came to believe that working with patented products and working with the big universities is a more stable model,” he said.
“It takes a long time because you have to work through the university system. But you meet some great people and the universities are where the research really starts. We’ve worked with Harvard Medical School. Oxford University and others in addition to the University of Arkansas. We ended up with about eight technologies that we have been commercializing and it took some work with stability studies and so forth,” Alkire said.