The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes that my success had very little to do with me but rather a divine power that steered me in the right direction and guided me along the way. No one could ever imagine or orchestrate my life’s journey and hardships into what my life is today, not even I.
I grew up in a loving family, but my parents divorced when I was 8 years old. My older brother and I attended six different schools from elementary to middle school. My dad had a car accident in 1984 leaving him paralyzed from the mid-back down. My brother and I helped take care of our dad for several years, including working jobs at 11 and 12 years old to help pay bills. When our dad moved to take a new job in a new town, my brother and I moved in with our uncle and stayed there for a couple of years. When I was 15 and my brother was 17, we moved into our own apartment to finish high school. After one year, my brother graduated high school and moved out. I kept the apartment and lived by myself for the last 2 years of high school. I was the only kid in school who could sign his own report card. As a result, I developed a strong sense of independence and responsibility very early on. I made good grades in high school despite working two jobs after school and on weekends to pay my bills and I graduated fourth in my high school class.
It wasn’t until after high school that I had an idea of what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Before then, I never really gave it much thought. I was accepted into the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Science pursuing a degree in Biochemistry out of high school. I’ve always had an interest in science and medicine, but this really became apparent to me when I was a student at UT Austin. I had an opportunity to do undergraduate research in biochemistry. This was a time when protein overexpression in bacteria was revolutionizing science and medicine. We could overexpress specific proteins in bacteria, then isolate the protein from the bacteria and then study its activity and function. This provided science a strategy to gain a better understanding of what may go wrong in many diseases by understanding specific proteins’ structure and function.
After graduation from UT, I spent 3 years in the industry working as a chemist and quickly realized this was not for me. There was no independent thinking, and my job was monotonous and mundane. I went through a divorce after just one year of marriage during this time. I quit my job as a chemist and spent a year or two trying to decide what to do with my life. I was financially, spiritually, and emotionally broke, divorced, and had no real sense of direction. In 2000, I enrolled at LSU School of Medicine in their Ph.D.program in Molecular and Cellular Physiology. It was there that I was introduced to the science of nitric oxide. Two years earlier in 1998, a Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three U.S. scientists for their discovery of nitric oxide. I had a chance to meet one of the Nobel Prize winners and have a conversation. It then became clear to me that this was an important area of research and still so much to learn. This was really the turning point in my life. I had a new passion for science, creativity, and innovation and I had a path forward with meaning.
At that time in the early 2000’s nitric oxide was recognized as a gas produced in the body and once produced it is gone in less than a second. It is produced at very low levels, nanomolar concentrations (one billionth of a mole or the number of atoms of a molecule). However, over time our body’s ability to produce nitric oxide decreases. The decrease in nitric oxide is what was responsible for age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of men and women worldwide.
My first challenge was to develop a method to detect this gas in biological systems at such low levels. I was able to accomplish this within a year and that provided the field with an incredible tool to then be able to measure nitric oxide in many different diseases. I published over half a dozen original papers as a student and completed my Ph.D. within2.5 years. I then was offered a fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine where I continued my research on nitric oxide in cardiology and drug design. During my 2 years at Boston Medical Center, we continued to publish many important discoveries around nitric oxide. After 2 years at Boston, I was recruited to join the faculty at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston by Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D., one of the three scientists that won the Nobel Prize. During my first year as Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine, I focused on filing patents and developing nitric oxide-based therapies for different human diseases. Over the next few years, my patents were issued and today I have dozens of issued U.S. and International Patents.
Once I realized there was enormous value in my discoveries and nitric oxide-based product technology, I began to explore entrepreneurship. My good friend and neighbor, Larry Covert was involved in private equity fundraising for start-up companies. He introduced me to many people, and I shared my story of nitric oxide. There was a lot of interest and after nearly 2 years of pitching investors, I found a group to license my patents from UT. The new licensee, I only learned later, was not experienced at bringing products to market. After the license was revoked due to failure to meet specific milestones, I realized as an inventor, I could start my own company and license my technology from UT. I started my first company in 2009 to commercialize my discoveries, with partners I met through the previous licensee. The company was called Neogenis Labs, Inc. Later we re-named and rebranded the company to HumanN, Inc http://www.HumanN.com. We developed an over-the-counter nitric oxide lozenge calledNeo40 and first brought it to market in 2010. At that time, most people, including consumers and health care practitioners, did not know anything about nitric oxide. In essence, we had a solution to a problem most people did not recognize. It was difficult going at first. This required educating the public and educating doctors about nitric oxide. I was still full-time in Academia and traveling extensively for the company to give lectures and seminars. In 2012, we realized that beets were becoming popularized in professional sports and the benefits were being attributed to nitric oxide. In 2013, we developed a nitric oxide sports performance product called BeetElite, now used by over 200 Professional, NCAA, and U. S. Olympic teams. Based on the success of BeetElitein the sports performance space, in 2015, we developed a consumer brand of nitric oxide-based energy product called Superbeets. Today these three products are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to HumanN and provide more than 40% of the total licensing revenue to the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston. My patents are some of the most successful in the history of the University in terms of revenue generated by the University. This was my first real taste of success and realization of the importance and utility of nitric oxide.
In 2018, I started a biotech company called Nitric Oxide Innovations (NOi) www.nitricoxideinnovations.com. NOi has a separate and distinct license to my patents from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Our first drug candidates were for ischemic heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, and heart failure, conditions where there was clear science showing loss of nitric oxide contributed to these diseases. When COVID became a global pandemic in 2020, we changed our focus to developing COVID drugs as part of the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP). Today we have a nitric oxide drug for COVID-19, called NOviricid that is in phase 3 clinical trials for African Americans and Hispanics, the highest risk patients for COVID. Nitric oxide is an obvious treatment for COVID. Coronavirus has a spike protein that binds to human cells by a receptor, the angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2). Nitric oxide is known to alter the surface protein of SARS-1 (spike protein) preventing attachment to the ACE2 receptor and thereby preventing entry into human cells. Nitric oxide is reported to improve oxygenation, an action needed as the COVID-19 disease progresses and acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS)develops. Nitric oxide decreases the propensity of blood to clot, a problem leading to multi-system damage in patients severely ill with COVID-19 virus or from the mRNA vaccine. All these factors; decreased oxygenation, low nitric oxide levels in at-risk patients, decreased oxygenation in severely ill COVID-19 patients, increased clotting, lead one to hypothesize that increasing NO levels in patients with COVID-19 would have an obvious benefit. We see patients getting better on the drug therapy from our clinical trials. We hope to have the FDA study completed by the third quarter of 2022and have drug approval by the end of 2022. This drug has the potential to end the current pandemic and future viral outbreaks since it is designed to affect COVID and other viruses at every conceivable step of infection and disease progression. In fact, everything we have learned about COVID can be explained by a lack of nitric oxide production. It explains the increased risk of certain patients and the systemic effects of the respiratory virus. We also have a nitric oxide topical drug under investigation for diabetic and pressure ulcers. We are exploring a drug application for a condition called ischemic, non-obstructive coronary artery disease (INOCA) where we have seen remarkable results of this growing condition. The science shows that there is really not a single disease where nitric oxide would not be beneficial.
In 2019, we expanded our product technology to the skincare and beauty space with a company called Pneuma Nitric Oxide, LLC. We chose Pneuma as our company name since “pneuma” translates to “breathe of life” or “vital spirit”. This clearly describes nitric oxide. Pneuma develops and sells nitric oxide-based skincare and beauty products. Our flagship product is a nitric oxide generating serum and is used by many doctors’ offices and medical spas. Similar to organs like the heart and brain becoming dysfunctional due to decreased blood flow, the skin also fails and becomes dysfunctional when there is decreased blood flow. Without proper blood flow delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the skin, the skin cells lose hydration, lose collagen, and lose their barrier function. As a consequence, the skin begins to sag, fine lines and wrinkles appear, and the skin becomes inflamed. Restoring blood flow by delivering topical nitric oxide can restore cellular function, improve collagen deposition thereby improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and restore the color, tone, and texture of the skin. There is no other skincare product on the market that does what our nitric oxide skin serum does.
Last year, I started a new company called Bryan Nitriceuticals, LLC with a focus on developing second-generation nitric oxide-based consumer products. As we learn more about the science of nitric oxide, we will continue to bring to market safe and effective products that preserve the body’s nitric oxide production and availability. We have learned a lot over the past 20 years, and we are dedicated to leading the science of nitric oxide and innovating new nitric oxide products.
Due to the demands of traveling and lecturing on nitric oxide and building my companies, I could no longer devote sufficient time for my academic job of writing grants and running a research lab. Furthermore, conflict of interest issues severely handcuffed my research efforts at the University. I retired from full-time Academia in 2015 and focused on entrepreneurship and building out my portfolio of companies that could help me to provide safe and effective nitric oxide products in every major product category around the world. Today these companies have a combined enterprise value of nearly 1 billion dollars. I’ve been blessed beyond measure. I’m now dedicated to giving back through many philanthropic efforts. Most recently, my company Bryan Nitriceuticals donated $800,000 worth of nitric oxide products to the people of Nepal in an effort to help in their COVID relief. My company gives 5% of our profits to humanitarian efforts around the world. We are building and donating an 8,000 square foot weight room and gym for Lexington ISD to give our students a new and safe facility to train.
As I look back over the past 25 years I could never have imagined or planned this journey. There have been many setbacks, disappointments, betrayal by people I trusted, and many sleepless nights wondering if I was doing the right thing or if it was even worth it. It was only from a strong faith in God and support from my family and friends that I survived the hard times. I always knew that the science of nitric oxide could change the world. I was fortunate and blessed enough to figure out how to deliver nitric oxide safely and effectively to humans. My guiding principle in research is “to see what everyone has seen but to think what no one else has thought”. I can proudly say that I’ve thought outside the box, and this has led to many discoveries. My thoughts and ideas were challenged and questioned by my academic colleagues early on, by many people I respected and considered mentors in the field. However, I was constantly reminded of the quote by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” My ideas and concepts turned out to be fundamental truths corroborated by science and clinical translation. I survived the ridicule and the opposition. Today, nitric oxide as a science and as a viable therapeutic candidate for many, if not most, human diseases is evident. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made but there is still much work to do. My mission and passion are to continue to advance the science of nitric oxide and innovate new nitric oxide product technology in every major market segment around the world. I’ve learned that with success comes competition, envy, jealousy, and you become a target. However, the most enlightening part of any journey is you truly learn who your friends are and who tries to destroy you. It still amazes and confuses me how some people try to continue to destroy and undermine the good we are doing through nitric oxide research and development. However, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Despite the battles, I remain committed to the truth and for doing the right thing.
I still travel all around the world and give lectures and training on nitric oxide. When not traveling, I spend most of my time at home at my ranch just outside of Caldwell. I have a cattle operation and manage several hundred heads of cattle. I still enjoy team roping on the weekends or just riding around the pasture. Most importantly I enjoy spending time with my family on the ranch. Despite my busy travel schedule, I still try to make time to be present at my boys’ many sporting events. With the loss of our oldest son Grant in 2018, it constantly reminds us how precious each minute of our life is.
With any success, there is enormous sacrifice, devotion, persistence, and patience required. I am not aware of any success story without those qualities. My perspective has always been to sacrifice and work hard early in life so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor later in life. “Do today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t”. I feel blessed beyond what I deserve. Although it took a while to find my direction and purpose, there is nothing better than doing what you love to do with the people you want to do it with. I’m at that stage now where I can choose the people with whom I want to be in business rather than those with whom I have to be in business. This has been the most liberating and peaceful mindset.
I know the science of nitric oxide will change the world and change the landscape of health and wellness and the practice of medicine. My job is to continue to educate and inform the masses. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the number one killer of men and women worldwide. This is simply unacceptable. We know what causes cardiovascular disease, the loss of nitric oxide. We know how to diagnose cardiovascular disease and we know how to treat, cure, and prevent cardiovascular and other diseases through the repletion of nitric oxide. The science is clear. The problem is education and awareness. As I enter into a new phase of my career, education in the science of nitric oxide is now my major focus. I hope this will encourage many to learn more about nitric oxide and what you can do to improve your own nitric oxide production.
Bryan Nitriceuticals www.NO2U.com
Pneuma Nitric Oxide www.N1O1.com
Nitric Oxide Innovations www.nitricoxideinnovations.com