Life sciences start-up MEND believes better nutrition will help concussion patients before and after surgery, and is seeking to roll out another of its supplement powders to tap that market.
The New York company is filing a patent for a nutritional drink meant to aid concussion and traumatic brain injury victims, founder Eziah Syed told Karma. The company currently sells a line of supplements to support recovery from different surgeries including cosmetic, orthopedic, and joint recovery.
The concussion market doesn’t appear to have a competing product, Syed said.
“There hasn’t been anything in the market that has shown to be neuroprotective, neuroregenerative for concussion patients today,” Syed, who is also MEND’s CEO, told Karma. “You’re generally told to not take certain things or told to rest, or increase water intake. But there isn’t a specific intervention or drink that we’ve come across in the world of natural compounds that does what we try to do.”
Customers for MEND’s other products include the U.S. Special Forces, 30 professional U.S. sports teams in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, Syed said. He declined to provide sales figures.
According to the International Journal of Gerontology, half of hospitalized patients are malnourished, and many of the leave malnourished as well. While companies like VitaMedica and Level-1 provide nutritional supplements, MEND is focused on a specific population — patients during the process of surgery.
With the body being in a higher metabolic state during the state of trauma, nutritional support is needed, according to the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.
“For a long time, there have been nutritional supplements in the form of powders used primarily by athletes,” Sally Guttmacher, a nutrition and food studies professor at New York University told Karma. “But I haven’t heard of something like MEND before.”
Syed, a former vice president at Citi Bank and part of the strategy team at Deloitte, founded MEND and moved its headquarters to NYU’s BioLabs earlier this year.
“Post surgery or trauma, the body requires core building blocks for tissues trying to repair with an increased risk of wound healing and inflammation,” said Syed, who had previous roles at Citigroup Inc. and Deloitte Global.
According to its research, patients who received the MEND amino acid supplementation showed better improvement within six weeks of a total knee replacement surgery, in comparison to a placebo group.
The patients using MEND had better Knee Society Scores, or patient functional ability scores, after six weeks than the placebo.
MEND is in talks with professional sports teams and the U.S. Special Forces for its new concussion intervention product. Claiming that using the product leads to less damage to the neurons when taken before a trauma, MEND wants to get into trials by the end of this year.
“We plan to go into placebo-controlled trials with our friends in the NFL,” Syed said. “We plan to take athletes and soldiers for the research putting them on the intervention and compare them relative to placebo over the course of several months. We will look at blood markers and the dizziness, inflammation and side effects of concussions.”
Nutritional supplements like VitaMedica provide natural vitamins for patients to take in relation to skincare and healthy weight, but VitaMedica isn’t meant for surgical and traumatic events nor is provided in a powdered drink mix like MEND.
“I don’t see anything like MEND. We have electrolyte replacers, but nothing to really naturally relieve metabolic stresses, except for suggested vitamins and multivitamins to take,” Susana Mendelson, a nutritionist based in Hoboken, New Jersey, told Karma. “Research like this is really important and a stress reliever for patients and the medical field. MEND has to prove itself to make itself a bigger player for popular use.”
Having raised $1 million in July from surgeons and Connor Barwin, an NFL linebacker, MEND wants to also tackle issues like ACL tears faced by athletes.