The levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), critical to health and lifespan, decline as we get older. But consuming more NAD+ isn’t the most efficient way to boost its levels. Rather, it’s been shown that there are precursor molecules that can raise the levels of NAD+ more effectively. So, there is a lot of interest and competition in figuring out how to generate precursors that can enhance our levels of NAD+.

Recently, Thorne Research, Inc., filed a petition for inter partes review at the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board that relates to pharmaceutical compositions of nicotinamide riboside (NR), an NAD+ precursor. The owner of the patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,383,086) is Dartmouth College, which has licensed the patent’s rights to ChromaDex, Inc.

Different biosynthetic pathways are responsible for converting different precursors into NAD+. In 2004, the Nrk pathway that allows cells to use NR to generate vital NAD+ was discovered at Dartmouth University.

Two patents were then granted for using NR generated by the Nrk pathway to replenish NAD+: the ‘807 and ‘086 patents for use of NR as a health supplement and pharmaceutical, respectively.

Ten years after the initial findings on the Nrk pathway, Dartmouth College licensed the ‘807 and ‘086 patents to ChromaDex. The company then trademarked NR with the name “Niagen” and licensed it to many distributors for resale.

This is not the first time that this patent has been challenged. The patent has been previously challenged by Elysium Health, Inc, which resulted in the cancellation of most of the patent’s issued claims. Now, Thorne Research’s petition uses a different legal strategy to challenge the remaining patent’s issued claims.