Healthy Foods Create Healthy Company

CIFT project grows economic growth opportunities

Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most in-demand nutritional supplements on the market. Forty years of medical research indicates that among other health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of certain cancers and improve both cardiovascular health and cogni- tive function. However, these essential substances are not produced naturally by the human body. Omega-3s are supplied only by a diet that typically includes salmon, mackerel, and other types of fish. However, recent attention has also been paid to their availability in certain species of another marine organism: algae.

AlgiSys, LLC owns the exclusive rights to intellectual prop-
erty and technology for the production of a particular
omega-3 fatty acid from algae using a high-tech fermentation
process. AlgiSys is focusing on the production of EPA or EicosaPentaenoic Acid, which by itself is a relatively unstable nutritional oil. To be formulated into most foods or beverages, EPA must first be encapsulated by highly engineered nano-sized particles called liposomes, which are often used as a safe delivery system in pesticides, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

To promote the use of omega-3s as food ingredients, the Center for Innovative Food Technol- ogy (CIFT) is sponsoring a project with AlgiSys and Ingredient Innovations International (3i). Wooster is the site of a laboratory already operated by 3i to produce soy-based liposomes for the food and cosmetic industries. AlgiSys and 3i are partnering to develop liposome technol- ogy for the encapsulation of algae oil containing EPA so it can be easily added to food and beverage products. The goal is to create new “functional food” ingredients that can be incorpo- rated into milk, yogurt, ice cream, peanut butter, health bars, juices, and other foods.

“The ability to nano-encapsulate these nutritional oils to enable use in consumer products is a huge advance for the food industry in Ohio,” said Dr. Charles Roe, chief technology officer and co-founder of AlgiSys. “As our population ages and healthcare costs increase, the preven- tive health benefits of dietary omega-3 functional food ingredients become
more desirable.”

The support offered by CIFT’s Functional Food and Ingredient Development (FFID) program has been instrumental to both AlgiSys and 3i. “CIFT’s FFID program has allowed AlgiSys to collaborate with Ingredient Innovations and apply nano-encapsulation technology to omega-3 ingredients,” Dr. Roe said. “CIFT immediately recognized the potential synergy between our two companies and the value of our technologies to the economy of Ohio.”

Success in the lab will mean the creation of new “functional food” products for Ohio manu- facturers – and new jobs, too. AlgiSys intends to build or acquire a production facility and produce its omega-3 fatty acids for customers in the supplement, food, and beverage indus- tries. As AlgiSys completes its product development work, another successful Ohio company will contribute to the food industry and to the state’s economy.