Greg Macpherson is passionate about all things mitochondria. As part of his role as CEO of MitoQ, he believes its his job to be an advocate for this important 'powerhouse of the cell' and the role it plays in supporting health. Recently, he spoke to Health E-Insights about the evolution of MitoQ and where we aim to be in the next few years. Read the full article below:
A pharmacist by trade, over the last 30 years Macpherson has founded a number of businesses in the health industry including the number one online pharmacy in New Zealand (NZ), the first robotic dispensing laboratory, and the largest residential care pharmacy in NZ. He is based in Auckland, NZ.
Health E-Insights: Why is mitochrondrial health so important to well-being?
Macpherson: Mitochondria are tiny parts of our cells that are responsible for energy generation, sex hormone synthesis, immune activity, cholesterol manufacture, and so much more. We need them to be working optimally so that our cells can operate at a level that supports optimal health. As we get older our mitochondria decline in function by as much as 10% per decade from our 30s; and it is thought that this decline is closely related to the aging process and the increase in health conditions we accumulate as we age.
Health E-Insights: What role does MitoQ play in supporting health?
Macpherson: In the process of generating the energy our cells need, mitochondria generate 90-95% of the damaging free radicals in the cell. Because of that they are stacked full of antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals, so they protect mitochondria and don’t leak into the cell to damage vital cellular machinery like DNA. As we get older the levels of antioxidants in our mitochondria naturally decline, and this impacts how well our mitochondria function. A less effective mitochondria has a double whammy effect of making less energy available to the cell, affecting its ability to operate, repair, and maintain itself. Excessive levels of free radicals leak into the cell, damaging key components like cellular machinery and DNA. The combination, over time, compromises our cells, our organs and eventually us.
Health E-Insights: Discuss the scientific technology behind MitoQ.
Macpherson: MitoQ was discovered at the Medical School of Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. Researchers were trying to understand why regular antioxidants were not as effective as theory would suggest, as many diseases are related to oxidative stress which is the result of an over-abundance of free radicals in the cell. They came up with the idea of targeting an antioxidant to the part of the cell that generates most of the free radicals, the mitochondria. And it turns out that if you place an antioxidant at the source then it has a very significant impact on the cell in a positive way. MitoQ is a combination of CoQ10, a commonly known antioxidant, with a positive charge. This positive charge is what makes MitoQ different than all the other CoQ10 forms and brands in the market. The positive charge on CoQ10 is attracted to the negatively charged mitochondria just like a magnet and gets into the mitochondria hundreds of times more than regular CoQ10. It is a genuine breakthrough that now has 39 patents globally.
Health E-Insights: How much of your own research has your company conducted on MitoQ?
Macpherson: We have conducted approximately $30 million (USD) in research over the past decade plus. This was initially to understand the discovery, to ensure it was safe and then to commence clinical trials to understand its efficacy. Our first trial was for Parkinson’s Disease and unfortunately MitoQ failed the trial. This was a devastating result for the company. But that failure had an upside. It caused the company to share MitoQ with researchers around the world who have gone on to test MitoQ in over 90 different health conditions and the results show that when you support mitochondrial function it has many positive health effects. Right now, more than $60 million (USD) in research has been completed and we have a further dozen or so human clinical trials underway or in the planning stages that will further validate MitoQ’s place as a molecule of significant benefit for human health.
Health E-Insights: How does your company manage to keep pace with health issues affecting lives of the American population?
Macpherson: Right now, while we are in an era of incredible medical discovery, we are experiencing an epidemic of health issues that are impacting the wellness of Americans. Diabetes, heart disease, dementia, kidney disease are impacting far more people than they should and the pace at which people are being affected appears to be growing. MitoQ is focusing on these key problems and developing products that assist people’s ongoing efforts to adapt their diet, lifestyle and supplements to proactively manage their health conditions.
Health E-Insights: Where will the most significant growth occur in your company in the next few years?
Macpherson: Our most significant growth is coming from healthy people in their 30s and 40s who are looking to invest in products that will enable them to be healthier for longer. It is so much better to find a product that will support your age with energy, with vibrancy and in good health than to retrospectively try and unwind an illness that has taken years to develop. We see American consumers becoming very sophisticated in their choices of product and demand solid research and evidence that what they are investing in will deliver a return over the long term in better health.
Health E-Insights: What words come to mind when marketing your brand?
Macpherson: Breakthrough cellular science. Mitochondrial health. Advanced third-generation CoQ10.
Health E-Insights: Who may have had a tremendous impact on you as a corporate leader?
Macpherson: Carl Sagan. He had an incredible mind and had the ability to communicate incredibly challenging topics in a way that was relatable to everyone. His passion for science was infectious and he inspired many people to discover and learn more about the cosmos. My role is similar but to help people learn more about the microcosm of our cells and in particular the importance of caring for your mitochondria so that they can have a meaningful impact on their health and the health of the people around them.
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