La Jolla-based biopharmaceutical company, Epirium Bio, received $85 million dollars in funding to develop a pill that mimics the hormone that creates mitochondria in the body, an energy typically produced through fasting or exercise.
“The only way you’re getting real meaningful increases in mitochondria before were either through exercise or fasting – this is the first time we can actually do that without having to exercise or fast. It mimics the benefits of exercise but without having to do it,” said Russell Cox, President and CEO, Epirium Bio.
Cox added that this pill isn’t meant to eliminate exercise completely from your routine, but instead, can add to the benefits of exercise, for those that need it.
The goal of the pill is to help patients with mitochondria deficiencies and eventually spread its aid to people dealing with other illnesses like heart disease, according to Cox.
Mitochondria creates energy known as ‘ATP’ in our body, an energy our cells can’t function without. But, as we get older, we lose some of that –changing the way our cells are meant to function, according to Cox.
“When you’re 18, you have lots of mitochondria. And every decade thereafter, you lose about 10 percent, so by the time that you’re my age you have about half the mitochondria you had when you were born,” said Russell Cox, President and CEO, Epirium Bio.
So, could this pill also help slow the aging process?
“There is animal model data that would suggest that’s true and we have data that shows diabetic myopathy patients who have muscles that sort of deteriorated and look like Swiss cheese that can be 30 years younger in terms of their appearance after taking this –but we haven’t proven any of that yet,” said Cox.
The next step for the bio-pharma company is to do a bio-marker study to understand which patients benefit from the product.
The team at Epirium Bio also needs FDA approval, which means the pill won’t be on the market for another three years.