How LifeGen Revolutionized the Science of Anti-Aging
April 17, 2015
Eighty years ago, an important scientist reported the findings of an experiment that would forever change our understanding of aging. Published in the Journal of Nutrition in 1935, Dr. Clive McCay showed that when rats were fed a calorie restricted (CR) diet, their average lifespan was almost 70% longer than rats that were given free access to food. In hindsight, the potential impact of this relatively simple study on human health is obvious—the aging process could possibly be affected through a simple nutritional intervention. Yet it took decades before scientists and the public began to appreciate the significance of Dr. McCay’s studies and their possible relationship to human health. Collaboration between two keen scientists with different backgrounds was instrumental in building upon these early studies to advance our understanding of the field of aging.
Pioneering Gene Expression Research
In the 1980s, Dr. Richard Weindruch, one of the leading scientists in the fields of aging and nutrition, rejuvenated the study of CR and the aging process. Dr. Weindruch published dozens of studies showing the impact of CR including its positive effects on diverse aspects of aging. Yet it is still unknown precisely how CR worked. Our genes carry a set of instructions for performing the functions of every cell in the body, so scientists suspected that the activity of certain genes could impact the anti-aging effect of CR. At the time, however, measuring the “expression” of genes within the body was a slow and complicated process—it could take a week to collect data on the activity of just one gene. Studying aging is by definition not a short‑term affair, and with more than 20,000 genes in the body, it would have taken centuries to understand how our genes influence aging!
Taking Gene Expression and Anti-Aging Technology to the Next Level
In the 1990s, Dr. Tomas Prolla, a molecular geneticist, was following the development of a technology that would allow measurement of the activity of every known gene in a single experiment. Drs. Weindruch and Prolla knew that this technology, “gene expression profiling,” would revolutionize the fields of genetics and aging. As a result, the team embarked on the first studies describing how gene expression changes with both age and CR in mammals. Their studies were published in some of the most prestigious scientific journals, including Nature and Science. This work also resulted in several patents being issued to Drs. Weindruch and Prolla., and in 2000 they founded LifeGen Technologies. The goal of this biotechnology company was to apply gene expression profiling to measure aging at the molecular level and develop interventions that slow the effects of aging.
Creating an Anti-Aging Powerhouse, Bringing Nu Skin and LifeGen Together
Nu Skin has consistently strived to recognize opportunities to create a comprehensive approach to anti-aging. In 1998 Nu Skin acquired Pharmanex, and in the process added many innovative nutritional supplements to its product portfolio. In 2011 Nu Skin acquired LifeGen,, confident that the acquisition would significantly enhance its position as a leader in the anti-aging industry. Today LifeGen’s research lab located in Madison, Wisconsin is an exclusive partner with Nu Skin for product development. Together the team leverages the ingredient expertise of Pharmanex scientists along with LifeGen’s anti-aging database to better understand changes in gene activity with aging. With innovative technology and a team of dedicated scientists, the duo believes they will be successful in developing high quality anti-aging products for years to come. ■
Jamie L. Barger, Ph.D.
Chief Operating Officer
LifeGen Technolgies, LLC