Prevagen has been touted as a dietary supplement that helps to improve memory. Does Prevagen work?
Prevagen is a dietary supplement made by Quincy Bioscience, a company based in Wisconsin. It contains apoaequorin, a protein derived from a jellyfish. Evidence cited by Quincy Bioscience that Prevagen is effective is reported in a study in 2016. This study was not published in any journal.
The goal of the study was to determine whether the active ingredient of Prevagen, apoaequorin, improves cognitive function in older adults who have normal or near normal memory function. In this study, healthy adults ages 40-91 with memory concerns were examined by cognitive tests over a period of 90 days. People with neurological diseases and other conditions were excluded from the study population.
The authors reported that there were significant improvements in cognitive function in people treated with the study chemical compared to those who were not.
Limitations of this study include:
The study duration was 90 days.
Only participants with minimal or no cognitive impairment were studied. Results for people with mild or greater memory impairment were not reported.
This study examined a small number of study participants. Of the 211 people enrolled in the trial, only 100 were included in the final analysis. Only 37-60 received the test chemical.
With respect to the majority of cognitive tests, the study reports there is a trend to significance. This is the same as saying there was no change.
They authors state there are significant improvements in the control group compared to the placebo group in three tests. These are the Groton Maze recall, the Detection test, and the One Card Learning test. The statistical analysis shows a lack of significant results. Examining the numbers reported in Tables 3 and 4, there was no significant improvement in either the control group or the placebo group over the time of the study.
The background evidence for the in vitro efficacy of the active ingredient of Prevagen was published. These include two meeting abstracts and one article in PLoS One.
It would be wonderful if Prevagen improved memory in normal people or people with memory problems. Although the evidence presented in this study was limited, we are hopeful that better evidence will be reported soon.
Note that The Federal Trade Commission and the State of New York have accused the manufacturer of Prevagen of false advertising.