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Algae as a Source of Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceuticals

Here is an article which I retrieved from the Oilgae newsletter archives. This article focuses on the importance of algae as a source of high-value end products.

The Super Formula to Fight Aging – Its Name is Astaxanthin
-Know more

Algae are a rich and varied source of pharmacologically active natural products and nutraceuticals. While nutraceutical and pharmaceutical content in the baseline algae strain is very small, current market values for these products are extremely high. The major products currently being commercialized or under consideration for commercial extraction include carotenoids, phycobilins, fatty acids, polysaccharides, vitamins, sterols, and biologically active molecules for use in human and animal health. The upcoming sections will bring into focus the use of algae as a potential source of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical ingredients.

Algae as a Source of Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical industry is growing at a CAGR of around 8% while the global pharmaceutical market is forecasted to reach US$ 1043.4 billion in 2012.

Use of algae, especially the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), for antibiotics and pharmacologically active compounds has received ever increasing interest. There are a range of pharmaceutical products derived from algae. Some of them include:

    • – Antimicrobials, Antivirals & Antifungals
    • -Neuroprotective Products
    • -Therapeutic proteins
    • -Drugs

1. Antimicrobials, Antivirals & Antifungals

Both microalgae and macroalgae exhibit antimicrobial activity which finds use in various pharmaceutical industries.

Role of Microalgae

      • * Microalgae, such as Ochromonas sp., Prymnesiumand a number of blue green algae produce toxins that may have potential pharmaceutical applications (Katircioglu et al, 2006)
      • * Various strains of cyanobacteria are known to produce intracellular and extracellular metabolites with diverse biological activities such as antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity (Naoman et al,2004)
      • * The biological activities of the algae may be attributed to the presence of volatile compounds, some phenols, free fatty acids and their oxidized derivatives (Zornitsa et al, 2009)

Role of macroalgae

        • * There are numerous reports of macroalgae derived compounds that have a broad range of biological activities, such as antibiotic, antiviral, anti- neoplastic, antifouling, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic and antimitotic (Naqvi et al., 1980)
        • * In the past few decades, macroalgae have been widely recognised as producers of a broad range of bioactive metabolites (Caccamese et al., 1981)
        • * Such antimicrobial properties enable macroalgae to be used as natural preservatives in the cosmetic industry.
        • * The highest percentage of antimicrobial activity was found in Phaeophyceae (84%), followed by Rhodophyceae (67%) and Chlorophyceae (44%). (Noemi et al, 2007)
        • * Red and brown macroalgae extracts show significant potential as anti-pathogenic agents for use in fish aquaculture. (Wefky et al, 2008)


2. Neuroprotective Products

Both microalgae and macroalgae are neuroprotective agents and promote nerve cell survival.

Role of microalgae

Among the various microalgal species, Spirulina is most commonly referred as a neuroprotective agent

        • * Spirulina platensis may be useful in the development of novel treatments for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson diseases.
        • * Spirulina maxima is found to partially prevent MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6 tetrahydropyridine) neurotoxicity and oxidative stress, suggesting it could be a possible alternative in experimental therapy.

Role of macroalgae

      • * Several macroalgae are found to possess therapeutic potential for combating neurodegenerative diseases associated with neuroinflammation.
      • * A marine macroalgae, Ulva conglobata, a marine algae, has neuroprotective effects in murine hippocampal and microglial cellshttp://bit.ly/9Iu2P93. Human Therapeutic ProteinsPharmaceutical companies could substantially reduce the expense of costly treatments for cancer and other diseases produced from mammalian or bacterial cells by growing human therapeutic proteins in algae. Microalgae usually find extensive use as therapeutic and diagnostic proteins.Role of microalgae
      • * Expression of recombinant proteins in green algal chloroplast holds substantial promise as a platform for the production of human therapeutic proteins
      • *The percentage of human proteins produced in their algal cultures is comparable to the fraction produced by mammalian cell cultures and much better than that produced by bacterial systems
      • *A study confirmed that diverse human therapeutic proteins could be produced in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green alga
      • * Algae can be used to produce
      • – VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) for treating emphysema
      • – HMGB1 (High Moblility Group Protein B1) which activates immune cells
      • – Domain 14 of human fibronectin
      • Domain 10 of human fibronectin used to increase the accumulation of other proteins
      • – Human proinsulin could be produced by algae, but only at lower levels
      • *The costs of using algae at large scale to commercially produce human proteins should be much lower than for mammalian cell culture, which require expensive fermentation facilities
      • http://bit.ly/cdvA9B4. DrugsAlgal chemistry has interested many researchers in order to develop new drugs, as algae include compounds with functional groups which are characteristic from this particular source.Role of microalgae
      • * Researchers have been able to produce an exciting class of anti-cancer drugs originally isolated from blue-green algae
      • * A compound named cryptophycin 1 has been isolated from blue-green algae which hold significant promise as an anti-cancer drug
      • * Microalgae produce incredibly potent alkaloidal neurotoxins such as saxitoxin and polyketide neurotoxins such as the brevetoxins for use as anticancer drugs, RLS.
      • Role of macroalgae
      • * The alkaloids found in marine macroalgae present special interest because of their pharmacological activities.
      • *These alkaloids in macroalgae are largely focused on finding drugs for cancer treatment.
      • http://bit.ly/cijvFACompanies Deriving Pharmaceutical Products from Algae
          • * Rincon Pharmaceuticals – www.rinconpharma.com/
          • * Rallis – http://www.rallis.co.in/
          • * Monsanto – http://www.monsanto.com/default.asp
          • * Jubilant Organosys – http://www.jubl.com/
          • * Piramal Healthcare – http://www.piramalhealthcare.com/
          • * AstraZeneca – http://www.astrazenecaindia.com/
          • * Idec Pharmaceuticals – www.idecpharm.com
          • * National Facility for Marine Cyanobacteria – http://www.nfmc.res.in/
          • * Novo Nordisk India Private Ltd – http://www.novonordisk.co.in/documents/home_page/document/index.asp
          • * Agri Life SOM Phytopharma (India) Limited – http://www.somphyto.com/
          • * Labprocure India Pvt Ltd – http://www.pharmaceuticals1.com/organisation/labprocure-ind-pvt-ltd.html

        Algae as a Source of Nutraceuticals

        The growing use of algae biomass for nutraceutical purposes is expected to provide an attractive revenue stream for algae producers. While nutraceutical content in the baseline algae strain is very small, current market values for these products are extremely high.

        Physiologically-active nutraceuticals from algae include food supplements, dietary supplements, value-added processed foods as well as non-food supplements such as tablets, soft gels, capsules etc.

        Some of the noteworthy products that can be derived from algae:

        • Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
        • Carotenoids

          • – Astaxanthin
          • – β-Carotene

        1. Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)

          • – As algae could be relatively easily cultivated at different stress conditions, they offer the prospect of a good source of PUFA for the nutraceutical market
          • – Recently, attention has focused on n-3 PUFAs from algae, especially eicopentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), due to their association with the prevention and treatment of several diseases (atherosclerosis, thrombosis, arthritis, cancers, etc.)
          • – Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3 and omega 6 series are straight chain carboxylic acids of 20 or more carbon atoms that contain 3 or more double bonds
          • -The conventional source of EPA and DHA is marine fish oil, but higher amount of EPA and some DHA can be produced by the use of algae

        Role of microalgae

          • * Microalgae have been an attractive source of PUFA (Benemann et al. 1987) due to their inherently high PUFA content
          • * Cyanobacterium Spirulina is rich in γ-linolenic acid (GLA) (and poor in the α-isomer) and thus is a good source for the purification of this PUFA (Mahajan and Kamat, 1995)
          • * Chlorella minutissima is a eukaryotic species with a fast growth rate and high PUFA content (Seto et al. 1984) and could be another important source of a PUFA-rich nutraceutical supplement
          • * The red algae, Porphyridium contain more than 30% of total fatty acids as AA (Arachidonic Acid) and equally high concentrations of EPA

        Role of macroalgae

          • * Fatty acids (FA) from marine macroalgae are generally richer in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a higher degree of total unsaturation.
          • * Both Phaeophyta and Rhodophyta species of macroalgae were rich in arachadonic acid (AA) and eicosopentaenoic acid (EPA) and Ulvales in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content.


        2. Carotenoids

          • * Carotenoids are a class of natural fat-soluble pigments found principally in algae where they play a critical role in the photosynthetic process
          • * In human beings, carotenoids can serve several important functions. The most widely studied and well-understood nutritional role for carotenoids is their provitamin A activity
          • *Carotenoids are found to be powerful anti-oxidants

        Role of microalgae

        β-Carotene and astaxanthin are attractive microalgal products as they command a high market price and are present in high concentrations in some algal cells

          • * β-Carotene
          • – β-Carotene is usually derived from Dunaliella salina
          • – β-Carotene is a natural pigment derived from green algae, is used as a yellow-orange food coloring and may help prevent certain types of cancers.
          • * Astaxanthin
          • – It is obtained from Haematococcus pluvialis which believed to contain the highest known natural levels of astaxanthin
          • – Astaxanthin has a number of biological functions:
          • * Protection against oxidation of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids
          • * Protection against UV light effects
          • * Protects against cancer
          • * Modifying immune function


        Companies Deriving Nutraceutical Products from Algae

        • * Parry nutraceuticals – http://bit.ly/7smIpP
        • * Alga technologies – http://bit.ly/55mbyq
        • * Martek Biosciences – http://www.martek.com/
        • * Hydrolina Biotech Private Ltd – http://www.hydrolinabiotech.com/
        • * EID Parry neutraceuticals – http://bit.ly/6ZGzMj
        • * Acadian Seaplants Limited – http://bit.ly/82V3R4
        • *Mingfu Fujian Agar Co Ltd – http://bit.ly/8oTjle
        • * Fuyang Green Foods Co., Ltd – http://bit.ly/4WyaOS
        • * Desert lake technologies – http://bit.ly/5sKRXW
        • * Fucoidan – http://bit.ly/6xmEB4
        • * Shandong Firstspirulina Biotech Co., Ltd – http://bit.ly/7AKOfe
        • * Globe Seaweed International – http://bit.ly/6Kfvjz
        • * Wefirst Biotechnology Co.,Ltd – http://bit.ly/4ZBWtZ
        • * Dharani Farms – http://bit.ly/58GrIn
        • Conclusion
          The markets for both pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals are growing quickly worldwide, and it is this global scope that particularly attracts marketers. A growing proportion of today’s promising pharmaceutical and nutraceutical research focuses on the production of promising compounds from algae. Thus, the untapped potential of algae in the field of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals has to be still explored to grow and capitalize on tremendous global marketing opportunities

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Leave a Reply 48845 views, 6 so far today | | posted by
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5 Responses to “Algae as a Source of Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceuticals”

  1. Nutraceutics Says:

    nutraceuticals is very important for health & fitness ,its food product are very effective for health & that provides health and medical benefits.

  2. Dominic Pawinski Says:

    What a great article!!! this is how the we can sustain the algae industry, with valuable needed products, single species cultication – the way to go, looking forward to more on this subject.
    Dominic Pawinski

  3. Mabel Margaret Says:

    Very interesting post.

    pharmaceutical actives

  4. Rittik Ghosh Says:

    what is the prsent market value of algae in pharmaceuticals?

  5. Xavier Lincoln Says:

    It is a rich source of active natural products. It is no surprise that why these will cost us extremely high. By the way there are being commercialized as indicated in the above content. I have also found that Algae is the anti-fungal specially the Blue green one. Thanks for sharing all these things with us.

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