Elysium Health™ Announces Research Partnership with the University of Oxford for the Purpose of Developing Epigenetic Measures of Brain Aging and Health
Elysium Health, Inc.™, a leading life sciences company focused on aging research, has entered into a material transfer agreement (MTA) with the University of Oxford to examine hundreds of samples from the VITACOG study to develop epigenetic measures of brain aging and health. As part of the company’s ongoing partnership with the University of Oxford, Elysium Health will analyze the VITACOG samples to identify DNA methylation signatures associated with brain atrophy during aging and explore changes in DNA methylation in response to treatment with the micronutrient complex used in the VITACOG study—a two-year clinical trial at Oxford that explored the effect of critical micronutrients on whole brain atrophy. Elysium Health already holds the exclusive license to use the micronutrient complex for dietary supplement and medical food applications to support long-term brain health and normal cognitive function, slow gray matter atrophy in regions that are important for learning and memory, and help to regulate abnormal homocysteine metabolism.
“At Elysium Health, we develop novel products based on advancements in aging research to support lifelong human health,” said Elysium Health CEO Eric Marcotulli. “In pursuit of this goal, we partner with the world’s best institutions and researchers. Access to the VITACOG biobank through our ongoing partnership with the University of Oxford provides us with the opportunity to create entirely new and unique measures of brain-specific aging with the potential to elucidate new states of health and disease. From mild cognitive impairment to vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, there is a need for tests, diagnostics, and the development of new technologies to further our understanding of the progression of dementia and to measure the effect of different therapeutic approaches. This research project and its resultant applications demonstrate the potential of next-generation technologies based on the study of epigenetics—an area that is uniquely positioned for rapid growth because it sits at the intersection of AI/machine learning and aging research.”
The Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging (OPTIMA) pioneered the study of the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by identifying modifiable risk factors. In 1998, OPTIMA researchers identified raised plasma homocysteine and low-normal plasma folate and vitamin B12 as strong risk factors for the development of neurodegenerative conditions. From 2004-2009, OPTIMA carried out an intervention trial known as VITACOG in healthy people with mild cognitive impairment in which half were given a B-vitamin micronutrient complex for two years. The main outcome measure was the rate of whole brain atrophy, and a marked reduction in the rate of atrophy was found in the group that received the B-vitamin micronutrient complex. The formulation of Elysium Health’s long-term brain health product Matter, which was developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, is the result of the findings of the VITACOG study.
“It’s a personal goal of mine to raise awareness about brain health, the importance of homocysteine levels, and the simple preventative measures people can take to support their long-term brain health,” said founding director of OPTIMA, University of Oxford professor emeritus of pharmacology, and Elysium Health scientific advisory board member A. David Smith, D.Phil. “While simple, accessible diagnostics like lipid panels and blood pressure exist for identifying modifiable risks for cardiovascular health, the same is not true for evaluating brain health or identifying risks for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. There remains a need to create non-invasive and accessible analyses, tests, and predictors for patients, practitioners, and caregivers. This project aims to take a step toward providing the general public, researchers, and clinicians with the information needed to reach a new frontier in our understanding of brain health, with the goal of better preventing and treating diseases of the brain in the future. Furthermore, it offers the potential to assess brain health quickly and easily, without the need for multiple brain scans.”
Developing further on Elysium Health’s proprietary algorithmic platform for epigenetic examination (APEX), and the company’s biological age measure Index, Elysium Health plans to utilize the VITACOG biobank to explore the development and commercialization of novel brain health measures. The VITACOG clinical trial uniquely enables the objective comparison of epigenetic changes over two years against MRI images over the same period, a significant opportunity to examine the underlying epigenetic patterns of varied levels of brain health. Elysium Health will seek to identify a whole brain health signal as well as brain health signals for specific regions. Accordingly, the company will also explore the impact that brain health has on individual biological aging with Index.