INID Research Lab, developer of the ingredient Glyteine, announced recently that it had won a $25,000 award in the event, called the Johnson & Johnson Innovation's Next in Naturals QuickFire Challenge on Immune Support. The company has brought to market an ingredient branded as Glyteine, with has been shown in a clinical trial to rapidly boost glutathione levels within the cells. The ingredient forms the basis of a direct-to-consumer supplement called Continual-G, which debuted in 2020.
Lining up the research
Rajan Shah, president of the Cypress, TX-based company, said the major challenge in entering the competition was lining up all of the documentation that supported the notion that declining glutathione levels degrades cells’ immune function and that finding a way to boost those levels could better arm the body to fend off attacks from viruses and other pathogens.
“They were looking for evidence-based solutions that support the immune system. We spend a couple of months on preparing the writeup and the documentation,” Shah said.
Glutathione, known as the body’s ‘master antioxidant’ is produced in all tissues of the body. It is formed via a two step enzymatic process. The first joins the amino acids glutamate and cysteine to make gamma-glutamylcysteine (GGC) and the second adds a glycine molecule to make glutathione. But this system degrades as cells age, with the first enzyme losing its capacity to produce enough GGC to sustain the body’s glutathione needs. Free radical damage to DNA and other cellular structures then accelerates, hastening the senescence of cells.
Instability of molecule presents challenge
Glutathione supplementation has always been problematical because the ingredient is highly reactive by nature. The molecule tends to quickly fall apart into its component amino acids. This could still supply the building blocks for endogenous glutathione synthesis within the cells but it doesn’t address the degradation of the enzymatic function.
Some existing ingredients have shown statistically significant increases in cellular glutathione levels but only after months of supplementation.
However, Shah said his company’s Continual-G dietary supplement, based on the Glyteine ingredient which had been under development for years in Australia, was shown a placebo-controlled pilot study published in the journal Redox Biology to be taken directly into the cells, where it was available for the second stage of the glutathione synthesis pathway. The result was glutathione levels that peaked at two to three times above basal levels within 90 minutes of supplementation.
In addition to the grant, INID Research Lab will receive one year of residency at an available JLABS, and mentorship from experts at Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
“We feel this incredible opportunity will empower us to accelerate the development and global commercialization of Glyteine to potentially bring about many more life-enhancing solutions,” Shah said. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with Johnson & Johnson Innovation as we aim to provide improved immune support options to people worldwide.”
“It is gratifying that our 20-plus years of research and collaborative work by a group of Australian biochemical scientists and engineers
has brought us to this point and is now being acknowledged by this award,” he added.
Social media slip up
While winning the grant was gratifying, communicating good news about immune health in connection with dietary supplements is complicated in the current climate. In mid 2020 INID Research Lab was cited by the National Advertising Division for making what were deemed to be COVID-19 treatment claims for its ingredient via a social media post. The company agreed to remove the post.