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Jellyfish protein boosts cognitive function and wins patent protection

By Mike Stones , 16-Jul-2010
Last updated on 16-Jul-2010 at 17:34 GMT

The jellyfish protein apoaequorin improves cognitive function in people with memory problems, according to interim data from a randomized controlled trial commissioned by Quincy BioScience which recently announced a successful application for patent protection.

Derived from a jellyfish called Aequorea Victoria, aequorin is a calcium-binding protein.

The protein improved cognitive testing scores by 14 per cent in 60 days compared with the placebo in the randomized controlled Madison Memory Study. The trial focused on 35 adults who had a memory concern and an average age of 61.

Mark Underwood, president and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience told NutraIngredientsUSA.com that: “Calcium-binding proteins are necessary for the proper functioning of the human brain and they deplete in the aging process as well as severely in affected areas in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. These proteins are known to provide a neuroprotective effect.”

Neurotoxicity

By replacing the depleted proteins, with a natural calcium-binding protein discovered in jellyfish, the company hopes to restore the brain’s natural balance of these proteins. “The proteins work by buffering intracellular calcium and slowing down a variety of events that can lead to neurotoxicity,” said Underwood.

“Based on our ongoing research of aequorin in various health conditions and what we know about the role of calcium in the body, we expect aequorin to be a vital protein in many aspects of healthy aging,” he added.

The company produces a dietary supplement called Prevagen based on its jellyfish technology. It plans to further investigate the efficacy of the protein in order to develop pharmaceutical products for specific disease applications.

The interim findings were presented at the 2010 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Honolulu.

Calcium imbalance

Meanwhile, the company recently received a US patent covering the use of aequorin-containing compounds for the purpose of preventing and alleviating symptoms and disorders related to calcium imbalance.

It first applied for the patent in 2005.

Underwood is optimistic about the potential market for cognitive health products: “Given the size of the Baby Boomer population, about 80m in the US alone, there is an enormous need for products to help support brain health. The market value for an effective technology to reduce these risks and improve brain health could start in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Quincy Bioscience plans to enroll diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease patients in a future trial in the near future. It believes the high costs of AD, dementia and related memory loss concerns, both for patients and care-givers justifies the need to look in new directions for remedies or preventative treatments.

The company hopes its jellyfish technology could also prove promising for other neurological conditions.

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