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VAYA Pharma, a Fast Growing Pioneer in Using Lipids to Treat Disease, Settles in UM BioPark

Three common disorders that are on the rise worldwide—attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), memory loss, and cardiovascular disease—may be more manageable thanks to a growing area of research and development in “medical foods.” And VAYA Pharma, one of the newest BioPark tenants, is developing medical foods that may hold the key to better management of these disorders.

At a “Lunch for Hungry Minds” (LFHM) session held at the BioPark in May, fellow tenants and others from the UMB community learned about VAYA’s three innovative products, based on a specific source of omega-3 fatty acids, and how they may help patients with these disorders as well as their families and doctors. VAYA, a subsidiary of Israel-based Enzymotec (Nasdaq: ENZY), moved from Greenville, SC, to the BioPark in late 2015. Steve Dubin, the former CEO of Martek and a well-known figure in the Maryland life sciences community, is the chairman of Enzymotec’s Board.

VAYA’s President and CEO, Rob Crim, joined Enzymotec in 2014. He has over 15 years’ experience in global clinical nutrition and medical foods. Most recently, Mr. Crim was an independent consultant for medical nutrition and healthcare clients. From 2004 to 2010, he held positions of increasing responsibility at Danone/Numico, and previously was at Abbott, Johnson & Johnson and Procter and Gamble

Dr. Gali Arzti, who has been the Medical Director of VAYA Pharma since May of this year and the Educational Manager with Enzymotec for many years before that, joined Crim in presenting at the LFHM session. She has many years of experience in clinical nutrition and medical foods, as well as a strong background in regulatory affairs.

Since it was incorporated in 2011, VAYA has been growing at a rate of 50 percent every year in terms of revenue. VAYA’s three products—Vayarin for ADHD, Vayacog for early memory loss, and Vayarol for hypertriglyceridemia—are “medical foods.” They are designed to bridge the gap between nutrition and supplements (which can prevent disease among healthy people) and pharmaceuticals (which directly treat disease). Medical foods are FDA-regulated, manufactured under cGMP, and designed to be physician supervision-based methods to help manage diseases.VAYA’s medical food products deliver omega-3 fatty acids using a molecule called phosphatidylserine, an essential component of cell membranes. These molecules are not available in a typical diet and have been shown to correct lipid imbalances in the body, improve social behavior, reduce family disruption for children with ADHD, and improve early-stage memory loss among adults.