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How Dolphins Flipped the Script to Completely Change A Century Old Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement Industry

·4 min read

After spending years learning how fish-based diets support healthy aging dolphins, a breakthrough discovery by Seraphina Therapeutics led to a new essential fatty acid, C15:0, that is bringing health into the 21st century.

SAN DIEGO , Sept. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Fish oil supplements have been around for well over a century, and scientific studies supporting their health benefits have been hit or miss. While it has become clear that eating 2 to 3 servings of fish per day is beneficial to our health, the most recent studies specifically assessing the benefits of omega-3 fish oil supplements have been less than promising.

In the largest placebo-controlled clinical trial to date, marine omega-3 supplements taken daily for 5 years by older adults did not significantly reduce their risk of developing heart disease, depression or mood disorders, frailty, autoimmune disease, dry eye disease, or cognitive decline.

Why has the science around omega-3s been so inconsistent, despite nearly 100 years of research? A series of peer-reviewed studies aiming to help dolphins may hold the key to the answer.

"When we studied how fish-based diets support the long-term health of dolphins, we learned that omega-3s may be a red herring," shared Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist who led the study published in PLOS ONE. In this study, higher dietary and circulating concentrations of omega-3s did not predict healthy aging dolphins. In fact, dolphins with the highest omega-3s in their diet had higher cholesterol levels.

"More importantly, our use of an advanced technology, called metabolomics, in these studies led to the discovery of C15:0 (pentadecanoic acid) as the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in 90 years - and what may be the healthiest fatty acid in fish," said Venn-Watson.

Dolphins are large-brained, long-lived mammals that age a lot like humans. This includes older dolphins' susceptibilities to chronic inflammation, high cholesterol, arthritis, fatty liver disease, and even Alzheimer's disease. Unlike humans, however, dolphins eat an all-fish diet throughout their entire lives. Thus, helping dolphins live healthier also provides an unprecedented opportunity to understand which nutrients in fish are truly most important to support health as we age.

After Venn-Watson's team discovered that dolphins with higher dietary and circulating C15:0 were less likely to have age-associated conditions, they dove deeper. Across 8 studies conducted over 3 years, Venn-Watson's team showed that C15:0 was an active fatty acid in fish that provided numerous benefits relevant to metabolic, immune, heart, red blood cell and liver health. In their peer-reviewed paper published in Scientific Reports, an evidence-based case was made for C15:0 as the first new essential fatty acid to be found this century.

"Given our learnings from dolphins, we hypothesized that C15:0 provides more health benefits than omega-3s," said Dr. Venn-Watson. "We tested pure C15:0 head-to-head against the purest and highest performing omega-3 and found that C15:0 was better, broader, and safer."

As published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, numerous clinically-relevant biomarkers across 12 human cell systems mimicking various disease states were compared when treated with either C15:0 or EPA, the leading omega-3. Here, C15:0 provided 26 more clinically-relevant benefits compared to pure EPA. C15:0 also helped to repair cellular health in 10 (83%) of 12 systems, while EPA provided benefits in only 3 (33%). Additionally, C15:0 was safe to all cell systems at all four concentrations, while EPA was toxic to 4 out of 12 cell systems at its highest concentration.

To date, over 50 peer-reviewed studies from prestigious research teams, including Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and Kaiser Permanente, have linked higher C15:0 in humans to better metabolic, heart, liver, and immune health. Some studies have even shown that people with higher circulating C15:0 live longer. Due to its role as an essential fatty acid, a leading hypothesis is that nutritional C15:0 deficiencies may be driving the global pandemics of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease, especially among younger people.

"While science supporting the health benefits of omega-3 supplements has been falling, the science around C15:0 as the most essential fatty acid in fish is rapidly gaining," said Venn-Watson. "Showing that dolphins had it right, from the beginning." The discovery of C15:0 was featured earlier this year as a TEDx talk.

About Seraphina: Seraphina Therapeutics, Inc. is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics. Through rigorous breakthrough science, the company develops pure and essential nutrients to support cellular health and counter age-related breakdown. With its team of industry-leading scientists, Seraphina Therapeutics challenges long-held approaches to nutrition, enabling the creation of novel health products designed to support quality of life. The company is a spinout of Epitracker, Inc., headquartered in San Diego. For more information, please visit seraphinatherapeutics.com and fatty15.com.

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SOURCE Seraphina Therapeutics