Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Nanocatalysis for the Improvement of Human Healthspan and Lifespan

Karen Ho, PhD | Clene Nanomedicine Inc.
Competition Sponsor: National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2020

The remarkable property of metal-based nanoparticles to efficiently catalyze chemical reactions has been recognized by the manufacturing industry, where there is growing interest in nanocatalysts as highly active, ‘green alternatives’ that enhance various chemical reactions. However, nanocatalysts have not been widely applied to human health and disease due to the significant challenges associated with producing nontoxic nanoparticles while maintaining their catalytic potential. Using electrocrystal chemistry, we have innovated a method of synthesizing clean-surfaced, highly faceted nanocrystals of metal transition elements (US Patent, Anonymous) resulting in concentrated, stable, aqueous nanocrystal suspensions. Our gold nanocrystal suspensions (AuNCs) displayed superior catalytic activities compared to other commercially available gold nanoparticles, while exhibiting no toxic effects in chronically dosed animals in standard toxicology studies. Oral administration of AuNCs to healthy human volunteers in a Phase 1 First-in-Humans study demonstrated oral dosing was safe and well-tolerated. Notably, oral administration of AuNCs improved clinical scores, behaviors, motor functions, and lifespan of several genetically modified or toxically-injured animal models of neurodegenerative diseases: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. AuNCs favorably altered the bioenergetic profiles of central nervous system cells, resulting in increased neuronal survival against stressors such as excitotoxic glutamate, amyloid-beta 1-42 peptide, mitochondrial inhibitors, and/or oxidative stress. Our studies revealed that the mechanism of action of AuNCs involves the stimulation of core pathways that are known to enhance longevity. Here we propose further studies to demonstrate that our AuNCs represent a transformative innovation with potentially wide-ranging beneficial impacts on human healthspan and lifespan.

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View this project poster, first displayed at the 2021 Global Innovator Summit.

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