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USF startup attempts to tackle aging problems


Natura Therapeutics, Inc., a startup company created at USF, might have found a treatment for the ails of aging.

A human-clinical study, recently published in Rejuvenation Research, has shown that Natura Therapeutics nutritional supplements may increase cognitive processes such as decision making, attention and memory.

During a two-month, double-blind study, participants with no cognitive impairment were given two pills of the base product, NutraStem Cardio, every day.

In the tests conducted on the participants, individuals were given 90 seconds to look at an object on the left side of a page, then look to the right side of the page to find the object or number that matched.

According to Cyndy Sanberg, a USF professor of pathology and cell biology and president of Natura Therapeutics, patients who were given the supplement performed significantly better than the placebo group.

“We found that the 52 individuals taking NutraStem Cardio were able to identify a lot more matching images and numbers,” she said.

The supplement works to repair and rejuvenate adult stem cells within the participants’ own tissues.

“Your adult stem cells repair the tissues in your body and keep your immune system healthy,” Sanberg said. “They are something that every adult has in every part of their body.”

Adult stem cells age with the body and become less efficient over time.

“When you get a paper cut when you’re like 13 years old, it usually heals up in a day or so,” Sanberg said. “For someone who’s in their 40s like me now, a paper cut could last like two weeks. The healing process slows down.”

The company Natura Therapeutics became incorporated in 2001, shortly after USF associate professor and company co-founder Paula Bickford came to USF.

At the time, Bickford was working heavily in nutrition and its affects on brain repair, while Sanberg was studying brain repair using adult stem cells.

“It was a natural sort of marriage between the two approaches,” Bickford said. “We started thinking about how we could start looking at a nutritional way to boost natural-repair mechanisms like adult stem cells.”

The pair conducted research throughout the early 2000s, attempting to figure out the perfect combination for rejuvenating adult stem cells.

In 2006, they conducted a study on three types of adult stem cells in a petri dish. After studying the effects of more than 200 different compounds on the adult stem cells, they finally found four compounds that improved the health and division of the cells: blueberry extract, green tea extract, L-Carnosine and vitamin D3.

These compounds became the base formula for their NutraStem products.

Natura Therapeutics currently offers three different nutritional supplements including one for cardiovascular health, one for active individuals and one for bone and joint health. All supplements cost approximately $30 a month.

The company has already entered into deals with supermarket chains Kroger and Publix, which Sanberg said will soon carry NutraStem products in stores across the country.

“We have been approved to sell all three of our products in 800 Kroger stores across the country, and we’ve also been approved to sell our products in about 1,000 Publix stores,” she said.

The company also plans on launching an education campaign for adult stem cells as well as a new product, NutraStem Slim, for weight management.

“We are researchers who used science to go into business, not the other way around,” Sanberg said. “And we will continue to do real research on all of our products and formulations.”