Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Apr 1998

Achieving Enhanced Quality Control

A total upgrade of the Life Extension Foundation laboratory will benefit all end-users of dietary supplements.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.

LEF Magazine April 1998

LEF Labs

A dramatic expansion of the Life Extension Foundation laboratory facilities will serve to benefit not just the Foundation's members, but also producers and end users of natural nutrients and supplements industry-wide

By I. J. Wolf

Life Extension Foundation quality control expert and technical director Herb Schneider (above left) and laboratory director Tahani Amer (above right) report that the Foundation's recent expansion in New York has virtually quadrupled the laboratory area to 1,800 square feet.

"It's great to have more space for equipment, and also room for people to work in," observes Amer. "It's easier to do more analysis and to get more accomplished."

The bulk of the new equipment lines most of the perimeter of the lab. A picture window allows visitors passing through the lobby to view the laboratory staff at work.

Looking in to the left, they'll see a 26-foot wall of sophisticated electronics assembled side by side, extending to the back of the room. At the far end opposite the lobby, another whole wall of equipment is visible.

The center of the room offers three 10-foot workbenches covered with Chemsurf, a chemically resistant material, and equipped with shelves for beakers, bottles and some smaller instruments. An office to the right of the picture window and lobby serves as Amer's office. In the near future, the lab director will be designating some of that space to more equipment, currently on the acquisition list. To the left of the viewing window is a door leading into a smaller area that in very short order will be outfitted as a fully functioning micro-laboratory.

The move from the former lab required no small measure of muscle, with the sizable inventory of apparatus previously in operation-carefully relocated to the expanded space. The list of equipment secured to supply the augmented arrangement also increased proportionately.

Along with the original High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph unit, the workhorse of the instruments that the Foundation lab crew depends on for analysis and quality assurance, another two were added. Within the HPLC, the range of indexes, or detectors with which to assess materials and ingredients, now include several options, including ultraviolet light detection as well as refraction and fluorescent indexes.

In addition, a Gas Liquid Chromatography unit was acquired which uses a flame ionization index. "Each of these gives us another way to analyze constituents," explains Schneider. "If you can't determine something by one of these systems, the different methods will allow you the flexibility to try another approach," adds Amer.

A unit determining moisture balance within materials is also a new addition, joining chemical analysis equipment such as the Dissolution and Disintegration apparatus which simulate the action of the body on a capsule or tablet, a pH meter, an Atomic Absorption unit, the centrifuge, and the Dry Keeper Standards cabinet for the storage of materials whose integrity could be compromised by exposure to moisture.

In addition to, and certainly because of, the lab's enhanced capability, several new chemists have been brought on staff and initiated into Amer's rigorous standard operating procedure.

Amer and Schneider are enthusiastically anticipating the assembly of the micro-laboratory, the next phase of the programmed upgrade.

"There are certain things we send out for analysis now," observes Amer. "The micro-laboratory will give us greater control over those procedures, and allow us to get them done faster."

In this area, the staff will examine materials for such organisms as yeast, mold, microbes or pathogens. Newly assembled equipment includes an incubator, a laminated hood to protect workers and carry off any contaminants, an autoclave, a sterilizer, and an apparatus to produce the ultra-pure water needed for microbiological media and solutions (currently the laboratory obtains its ultra-pure water by the bottle).

Scheduled for the next stage of development are the acquisition of stability chambers, equipment that will extrapolate on-going potency of the finished supplements by simulating conditions, such as temperature and humidity, that could affect the viability of products.

LEF Research labs A polarimeter, another index for analysis, is an additional piece of equipment on the list of future purchases, along with a titration unit for wet ingredients and a melting point apparatus. A computer dedicated to lab management is also in the offing.

In all, the body of equipment augmented by the recent acquisitions totals in excess of $300,000, with another $50,000 budgeted for the furnishing of the micro-laboratory and other scheduled purchase of instruments.

The goal of Amer, Schneider and the corps of Foundation lab personnel is to be able to continue the work in which they've already been involved, developing and expanding the procedures and methods used in working with natural nutrients and supplements. "Analyzation methods for chemicals and pharmaceuticals have been around a long time," notes Schneider, "but that's not always the case with the constituents used in natural products.

"Saul Kent [president of the Life Extension Foundation] wants to systematize the information and protocol we're currently developing here, so that it's then available for the industry in general."

Capitalizing on the enhanced capabilities of its laboratory, Life Extension Foundation chemists have been formulating innovative techniques that lead the industry into the new millennium with pathfinding processes and procedures. Utilizing the new Gas/Liquid Chromatography apparatus, lab director Tahani Amer has been developing new investigational methods to analyze EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in the omega 3 contained within fish oil.

Amer and Foundation personnel have scrutinized the fatty acids profile that makes up saw palmetto capsules and extracts. In addition, employing a spectrophotometric assay, staff has investigated dianthrones, which is computed as the strategic element hypericum in St. John's wort extract.

The expanded bank of HPLC equipment in the new facilities has been crucial in accomplishing the explosion of new operations. "We've created HPLC assays for the quantitative analysis of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate and N-acetylglucosamine," notes Amer.

Further pathfinding research has been developed with an HPLC assay for alpha lipoic acid, and an HPLC method to determine the various catechins in green tea extract and leaf powder. Other HPLC processes devised at Foundation LEF laboratory include assays for pregnenolone and DHEA, such flavanoids as silybin in silymarin capsules, and salicin in willow bark extract.

Finally, Amer's chemists have improved the HPLC for such amino acids as N-acetylcysteine, L-cysteine, dl-phenylalanine, glutathione, tyrosine, ornithine HCL, and arginine HCL.