“In his own words, it took “forever.”
And for Professor Thomas Shea of UMass Lowell, “it” is the winning of a significant patent for his brainchild, PERCEPTIV — an over-the-counter pill that protects against cognitive decline due to aging.
The so-called “composition and methods” patent, U.S. 8,597,640, was announced by the U.S. Patent Office on Dec. 3. Put simply, it recognizes and protects PERCEPTIV’s exact ingredients and their formulations, as well as what PERCEPTIV can do — offer neuro protection that improves cognitive performance.
Shea, who credited a former student, Amy Chan-Daniels, who did clinical work as part of her doctoral thesis, has been researching brain health and cognitive performance for more than 20 years.
Last year, UMass Lowell entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Waltham-based Sevo Nutraceutricals, a startup formed by Westford resident Bernie Prusaczyk.
Prusaczyk said his company’s positioning is “pretty unique,” in that Shea and his team did virtually all of the patent-application work.
“It (the patent application) was filed initially in April 2008; we licensed it (PERCEPTIV) in August 2012,” Prusaczyk said. “There was no corporate sponsorship on his studies. That resonated with the people we talked to. The work was done independently, with Dr. Shea as the lead inventor.
“It’s a labor of love, and we (Sevo) are just shepherding it along.”
PERCEPTIV is sold over the counter for $59 per bottle, with each bottle containing 60 pills, enough to last a month. It’s available in more than 250 stores in 40 states, as well as through Sevo’s website.
Among the stores in the region that sell it are Alternative Care Providers on Wood Street in Lowell; Letourneau’s Pharmacy in Andover; Perras Chiropractic Center in Tyngsboro; and Clover Farms General Store and Natural Market, both in Groton.
For Shea, a cell biologist who is director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, finding a solution to brain degeneration was inspired by working at McLean Hospital in Belmont with people experiencing cognitive decline.
He came to Lowell in 1994, and is grateful to former UMass Lowell Chancellor William Hogan, who provided $60,000 in seed money to get Shea’s team there started.
A subsequent study cost $240,000 and was funded by the Alzheimer’s Association of America.
But there was a lot of sweat equity, too.
“We donated time, and involved lots of people across the country, and they were lucky to get lunch money,” Shea said. “We had 11 sites for clinical studies, no salaries. It was academic people who love this work.”
PERCEPTIV consists of a precise blend of three vitamins (folate, B12 and vitamin E) and three nutraceuticals (S-adenosyl methionine, N-Acetyl cysteine and acetyl-L-carnitine) that offer antioxidant protection to brain cells and a way to maintain brain-cell health and function.
Shea’s seven independent studies have been published in scientific journals and presented at multiple international conferences, including the Alzheimer’s Association International Conferences in Paris and Boston.
And, as Prusaczyk pointed out, the studies were funded without corporate backing.
“Not a dime corporate-funded,” Shea said, adding that the product was “signed, sealed and delivered” once Sevo agreed to license it.”
To learn more about PERCEPTIV: How PERCEPTIV Works to Improve Brain Health
Over 20 Years of Clinical Research
PERCEPTIV is the result of 20 years of research, leading to 7 independent clinical studies conducted by neuroscientists at a major US university and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.