Menu

Anti-aging Pill Challenged

Former biotech executive files lawsuit accusing the company of engaging in deceptive business practices.

Jul 31, 2012
Hayley Dunning

Telomeres, the nucleotide sequences that protect chromosome ends from degradation, have been linked to aging as they shorten during every cell division. In 2005, the New York-based Telomerase Activation Sciences (TA Sciences) created a dietary supplement they claimed could lengthen shortened telomeres. The pill, named TA-65, brings in $6 million in annual US sales. Now, former TA Sciences Vice President for Global Sales Brian Egan has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, challenging the supplement’s scientific basis, including the claim that TA-65 can lengthen telomeres. The president of TA Sciences, Noel Patton, denies all allegations.

Egan isn’t the first to be skeptical. “A compound that can lengthen telomeres would be excellent,” Carol Greider, who shared the Nobel Prize for her work on telomeres told Nature, but “we would need to test it rigorously.” Research sponsored by TA Sciences has shown the active ingredient, isolated from the herb Astragalus membranaceus does increase telomere length in mice and humans, but Greider and others have raised questions about the methods used in the research, which was conducted by Telomere Health in Menlo Park, California. If the claims are true, it could be a huge boon to patients dying of bone marrow failure and pulmonary fibrosis, Greider told Nature.

Greider is also suspicious of the fact that TA Sciences sells the pill as nutritional supplement, rather than a drug. As a supplement, the pill's health claims do not have to be evaluated by the FDA, nor do they have to be proven with extensive clinical trials in humans. However, Calvin Harley, president of Telomere Heath stands by the conclusion that TA-65 is a “weak telomerase activator.”

Starting in May 2011, Egan said he was required to take TA-65, in order to help expand TA Science's reach in foreign markets. Soon after, Egan was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In September 2011, he was fired and was allegedly offered a cash settlement to keep his disease under wraps. According to an affidavit filed by Patton, taking the product was not mandatory, and Egan was fired for bad sales.

In March 2012, TA Sciences sued Egan for telling a potential business partner that he had developed the cancer while taking TA-65. TA Sciences say they believe Egan already had the cancer before they hired him in May 2011. Egan filed his class-action lawsuit on 23 July 2012, in the New York State Supreme Court, along with another man who took TA-65.

November 2018

Intelligent Science

Wrapping our heads around human smarts

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Slice® Safety Cutters for Lab Work

Slice® Safety Cutters for Lab Work

Slice cutting tools—which feature our patent-pending safety blades—meet many lab-specific requirements. Our scalpels and craft knives are well suited for delicate work, and our utility knives are good for general use.

The Lab of the Future: Alinity Poised to Reinvent Clinical Diagnostic Testing and Help Improve Healthcare

The Lab of the Future: Alinity Poised to Reinvent Clinical Diagnostic Testing and Help Improve Healthcare

Every minute counts when waiting for accurate diagnostic test results to guide critical care decisions, making today's clinical lab more important than ever. In fact, nearly 70 percent of critical care decisions are driven by a diagnostic test.

LGC announces new, integrated, global portfolio brand, Biosearch Technologies, representing genomic tools for mission critical customer applications

LGC announces new, integrated, global portfolio brand, Biosearch Technologies, representing genomic tools for mission critical customer applications

LGC’s Genomics division announced it is transforming its branding under LGC, Biosearch Technologies, a unified portfolio brand integrating optimised genomic analysis technologies and tools to accelerate scientific outcomes.