Yet More On Lifeline, Protandim
Permalink | | Posted by Reason

It seems that Lifeline Therapeutics, marketeer for Protandim, has netted venture capital:

Lifeline Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCBB: LFLT), a health company dedicated to developing products that help people live better, healthier and longer lives by fighting oxidative damage in the body, today announced the company completed an $8 million private placement. Keating Securities, LLC acted as sole placement agent of the financing. Proceeds from this funding will be used to eliminate the Company's debt of $3 million, for U.S. research surrounding its Protandim product and as working capital related to the development of new antioxidant therapies.

Through the miracle of product placement - available to those bearers of the magic green tokens we call "money" - this coincides with a nice healthy examination of Protandim and supporting science at ABC. Such is the way the world works, nothing out of the ordinary there.

What makes me a little more skeptical than normal when it comes to pills and anti-aging claims is the history of this particular company. The short version can be told as follows:

  • CereMedix tests a compound that could extend life span by mitigating oxidative stress. This is CMX-1152, described on the CereMedix website (scroll down a bit on that page).
  • Lifeline is founded on the basis of a licensing deal with CereMedix; the Protandim name is later assigned to CMX-1152
  • Around this time, I begin to comment on this deal, CMX-1152, Protandim and Lifeline. Some of my comments are promptly misquoted, rewritten and used as a glowing endorsement on the Lifeline website; not an auspicious start. My grumbling on that topic can be seen in the Immortality Institute thread on Lifeline.
  • For reasons that remain unclear, Lifeline does not proceed with CMX-1152, but rather begins looking for a new product to market under the existing brand name of Protandim.
  • For a time, Lifeline continues to use the experimental results from CMX-1152 to tout their new non-CMX-1152 product, which could charitably be described as a potpourri of existing antioxidant supplements. This also is documented in the the Immortality Institute thread on Lifeline. Not cricket, gentlemen.
  • Now we see a more mature offering from Lifeline, at least in the marketing department. They have retained the focus on oxidative stress, but are building a brand on the work of different scientists.
  • So far as it goes, it looks like Lifeline is still selling the potpourri of existing supplements.

So, this is just like the circus over resveratrol by the looks of things; some moderately interesting science in the intersection of metabolism and longevity buried by a cartload of marketing. We may, or may not, find out something interesting about the long term effects of the product on humans in a decade or so. As for resveratrol, I have no doubt some folks will make money from Protandim, but this is a distracting sideshow for anyone interested in meaningful healthy life extension. The immediate future of health and longevity is not in pills, folks. There isn't anything out there proven to do better than simple calorie restriction - and even that isn't so great in the grand scheme of what is possible. If you want to live a much longer, much healthier life, don't spend all your time chasing after better pills and tinkering with your metabolism. Instead put your energies into supporting the sort of research that will put an end to age-related degeneration once and for all - that could happen within our lifetime, but only if we stand up and make sure of it.

UPDATE: Some interesting comments from Pete Estrep:

Well, they certainly have guts to present the data on this web page,

Around thirty mice and thirteen subjects in the human trial. They draw a line through points that have an R^2 of 0.02. This means that the points are almost randomly scattered. Sure, you can draw a line through these points but it is almost meaningless. I won't be buying Protandim until they generate a lot more data.

FYI, the stuff is made of herbs (ashwagandha, and extracts of milk thistle, bacopa, green tea, and turmeric). They claim it works by increasing levels of protein antioxidants. If this is true I am interested in the mechanism since you can increase levels of endogenous antioxidants by increasing oxidative stress and damage. This is similar to certain claims of compounds increasing levels of DNA repair enzymes. The most reliable way to do this is to increase DNA damage because you will get elevated levels of repair enzymes in response to damage. The effect Protandim has on lipid peroxidation is irrelevant since lipids are replaceable, it is just a proxy for damage to more precious stuff, like DNA.. What we really want to know is what Protandim does to the rate of DNA damage. Does it cause less damage, more, no change? Unknown.