ChromaDex: Is Elysium About To Get In Trouble?

ChromaDex (CDX) is known by investors as the manufacturer of Nicotinamide Riboside, more commonly referred to as NR, an anti-aging nutraceutical. They are also known for owning the patents around NR. CDX was also the first and only company to obtain regulatory notification from the FDA with two NDIs and GRAS; NR was not available to consumers until CDX launched Niagen in 2013

For the last couple years, ChromaDex has been in a legal tussle with Elysium, a former client who now markets their own form of NR (which they combine with another compound called pterostilbene) called Basis. The battle centers around possible patent violations and past due monies owed to ChromaDex. It appears, that ChromaDex has a good legal case and will quite possibly prevail. In the meantime, however, Elysium is marketing their version of NR which is taking share from ChromaDex’s products’ potential market.

* For a good overview of the legal ongoings between the companies, check out this website *

Basis is comprised of a combination of NR and pterostilbene, and there are three clinical trials posted on attributed to Elysium and their product Basis. Their first trial run by the CRO KGK Synergize was performed using Niagen(NR) and pTeroPure(pterostilbene) from ChromaDex. The two other clinic trials at UPenn (Sirtuins BestBet) and Mass General Hospital (Kidney) are being run with Elysium’s “new” Basis formulation with NR and pterostilbene not from CDX. Recently, results from the first trial were published in Nature Magazine’s subjournal “Aging and Mechanisms of Disease”. The title of the article was, “Repeat dose NRPT (nicotinamide riboside and pterostilbene) increases NAD+ levels in humans safely and sustainably: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Obviously, Elysium was encouraged by these results.

However, this month, in a letter to the editor of the Clinical Nutrition Journal from Dr’s Brenner and Boileau, it was stated that the form of NR marketed by Elysium containing pterostilbene causes increased LDL cholesterol levels. The abstract from the letter is below (emphasis added by me).

Resveratrol and pterostilbene are polyphenolic compounds found in fruits and nuts. Though resveratrol does not depend on sirtuin 1 for its metabolic effects [1,2] and pterostilbene has not been shown to bind to sirtuin 1, Elysium Health combines nicotinamide riboside (NR) [3] with pterostilbene with the expressed purpose of increasing sirtuin 1 activity by a combined mechanism [4]. The literature indicates that sirtuin 1 activators would be expected to improve lipid management [5,6]. However, as summarized in Table 1, daily administration of NR plus pterostilbene produced a dose-dependent and clinically statistically significant increase in total cholesterol driven entirely by increased low density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Now it should be noted that the authors of this letter are under the employ of ChromaDex. They may be biased in their analysis. It is also important to note that the published clinical trial was performed using NR and pterostilbene purchased from ChromaDex, and that the Basis product consumers are purchasing today contains NR and ptero NOT from CDX and should not be considered as equivalent. That all being said, numbers usually don’t lie and their interpretation of the published results led them to believe that Elysium was hiding the negative effects of pterostilbene on cholesterol levels. The authors said the following:

“The authors did not release their primary data for independent assessment of significance and did not disclose results previously reported for pterostilbene that are wholly consistent with the study’s finding of what is clearly a clinically meaningful increase in LDL-C. While the authors cite this study to point out the earlier observation that pterostilbene reduced blood pressure, they neglected to cite clinically meaningful increases in LDL-C for treatment groups receiving 100 mg or 250 mg daily pterostilbene for 6-8 weeks as well as significantly decreased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in subjects who were not taking statins.”

Chromadex, beyond making Tru Niagen (their retail version of NR) is also a supplier of many nutraceutical ingredients. Included in their ingredient stable was pterostilbene…at least until this study came out. They have since ceased manufacturing of the product. They obviously believe there is a problem here.

The good news for ChromaDex is that Tru Niagen does not contain any pterostilbene and thus would not appear to have the same issues with cholesterol as Basis.

Furthermore, it seems likely to this author that, if Brenner and Boileau are correct, Elysium could be in significant trouble on a number of fronts. At a minimum (once again, if true), Elysium would likely have to change the makeup of Basis or stop selling it altogether. Since Basis is their primary form of revenue, that could damage their balance sheet and, taking it one step further, might cause them to not have the financial ability to fight the patent war with ChromaDex.

Tru Niagen, and NR, continue to impress me as a potential “wonder supplement” and I take it daily. If clinical studies continue to show good data, CDXC stock has huge potential. Even more so if their primary competitor is taken away.

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