Biotech company claims jellyfish protein can improve memory

“Can a protein originally found in the jellyfish improve your memory? Our scientists say ‘YES!'” So starts the advertisement for Prevagen, a product currently being marketed and sold as a supplement for improving memory and thinking abilities.

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Wouldn’t everybody like to have a better memory and a clearer head? And what better way to achieve it than by simply popping a pill once a day? Forget about the hassle of changing your diet and exercising your brain! Supplements like Prevagen offer just this, but do they follow through on their claims?

According to Forbes, there is no scientific evidence to say that Prevagen improves memory, and the studies that back up Prevagen’s claims are sponsored by its maker, Quincy Biosciences.

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Prevagen’s pills are made from a protein called apoaequorin, which is found in the bioluminescent jellyfish Aequorea victoria. But how does this protein — which is being sold as a dietary supplement — make it through the digestive tract to the brain?

Apparently there is no reason to suggest that this protein would have any effect on our brain function for three reasons: It’s not a human protein; if it did somehow work, then eating it would not deliver it to our brains; and lastly, “the connection between this protein and memory is complex, so simply having more of it is not likely to improve memory.”

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The company has also found itself in hot water with the Food and Drug Administration, which has taken issue with the way it’s marketing the product. Forbes states that in 2012, the FDA sent a letter to Quincy Biosciences stating that the product was being marketed as a drug and not as a supplement.

However, there are people across the globe who do eat jellyfish, and according to a Takepart article, it may not be a bad idea to do so (for reasons other than improving brain function.)

“More than 900 million pounds of jellies are purposefully netted for human consumption on an annual basis,” Takepart reports. The first jellyfish consumed by humans is believed to have been around 1,700 years ago, in China.

So you might want to try eating jellyfish; there’s just no evidence to suggest it’s going to improve your brain function.