Algae Newcomer Says it is Using Low-Risk, Proven Fermentation Approach to Bring EPA-Only Oil to Market

Nutrient Ingredient-USA

By Hank Schultz 11-Feb-2015

Algae newcomer says it is using low-risk, proven fermentation approach to bring EPA-only oil to market

AlgiSys did its proof of concept work in concert with Michigan Biotechnology Institute (MBI)

AlgiSys did its proof of concept work in concert with Michigan Biotechnology Institute (MBI)

The increased concern about the sustainability of omega-3s supply has given a powerful push to the development of alternative sources, now giving rise to yet another algae supplier. This one has a twist, though; officials with AlgiSys, a development stage biotech company, say they are using technology that has already been demonstrated at commercial scale.

Michael LoPresti, CEO of the Cleveland-based company, said AlgiSys has already raised $6 million in startup capital. Part of the way the that the AlgiSys team, which includes chief technical officer Charles Roe, sold the idea to investors was to emphasize that the company is not breaking new ground per se, but is apply a proven technology in a new way.

“There are three primary ways to grow algae: in open ponds, in bioreactors and via fermentation,” LoPresti told NutraIngredients-USA. “It’s the division between phototrophic (using sunlight) and heterotrophic organisms. To date the real proven model has Martek’s (now part of DSM) using fermentation,” LoPresti said.

So the AlgiSys founders decided, given Martek’s huge success, to not try to reinvent the wheel but to using a similar technology in such way that it did not tread upon the existing patents. AlgiSys has been doing behind-the-scenes development work on a proprietary algae species that yields an EPA-rich oil in a fermentation setting. The Martek technology was centred on DHA.

“Our process follows a very similar model. We believe we will become one of the primary companies on the EPA side using fermentation,” LoPresti said.

 Going to commercial scale

There have been almost as many methods proposed for the growing of algae for supplement ingredients has there have been strains that have been researched.  Many approaches offer promise at bench scale but then founder when proponents try to ramp them up.  Of particular concern has been controlling contamination in larger scale algal cultivation schemes.

This was a concern that led LoPresti and his fellow founders down the path blazed by Martek. Following the Martek lead has significantly reduced the company’s risk, he said.

“We don’t believe that a phototrophic approach has yet been proven to be completely scalable on the commercial level. We know that there is a significant amount of capital need to start up and sustain that model. And there are a lot of exposure points in that process where things can go wrong. So it’s a real win-win for our company in that we are following a path of proven scalability,” he said.

LoPresti said the company has met all of its development milestones to date. Initial work on the algal species was done at Virginia Tech University. The company’s technology platform was developed in concert with the Michigan Biotechnology Institute (BMI) in Lansing. BMI, which has a strategic partnership with Michigan State University, is a development non-profit organization that works to “derisk” new technologies. AlgiSys performed its proof of concept and scale up work there as well as with some unnamed European research partners.  The concept is now ready for prime time, LoPresti said.

“We have me all of our milestones to date and we have one last milestone to meet and that is to get to full commercialization. We have a North American and a European partner we are working with on that. At that point we will be able to produce commercial levels of omega-3s in 150,000 liter vessels,” he said.

Market potential

Up to now most omega-3 supplements on the market have offered some ratio of EPA and DHA in the same product.  Part of this was driven by what was easily refined from fish oil, as the 18:12 EPA to DHA ratio became the industry benchmark.  Now that there are different ratios and concentrations available, and EPA only or DHA only products are possible (Martek having blazed a path in this, too) Roe said there is significant market potential for an EPA-only product.

“Heart health and joint health are two indications for a standalone EPA product and joint health is particularly significant as we are moving on to an aging population.  There is mood, too, but I don’t think we can say anything conclusively about that yet,” Roe said.

Sustainability message

LoPresti said the market for omega-3s will continue to grow, citing data that indicates it will hit $36 billion by 2016.  All of that demand will place increasing pressure on supply, a question which is especially acute at the moment with the issues surrounding the Peruvian anchovy fishery, which was suspended altogether for the most recent catch season.  Even if that fishery recovers, the supply question isn’t going away.

“Currently there are 32 pharmaceutical drugs based on omega-3s in the pipeline. The demand that is going to be placed on the supply by these high concentrations is going to be significant.  With sustainability always going to be an issue on the horizon, that bodes well for a company like us where we can produce as much of the ingredient as is needed,” LoPresti said.

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Omega-3 Industry Articles - Summaries and Highlights

Omega-3

Industry Information

Highlights & Excerpts from Published Articles

About EPA and DHA:  GOED, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, Salt Lake City, UT

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (O-3s) that are abundant in fish and shellfish, as well as oils from fish, krill, algae and some genetically engineered plants. The body needs O-3s to function properly, not to mention optimally in every stage of life, beginning long before conception.

The vast body of science associated with O-3s provides the strongest support for maintaining and optimizing heart and brain health. The understanding of O-3s' role in infants' cognitive and visual development led to the fortification of infant formula on a global basis.

 Increased understanding that O-3s play a role in preventing heart disease in the general population has led to an increase in the number of recommendations globally to take O-3s to support heart health with the potential to decrease death from cardiovascular disease.

 Other areas of emerging research include cognition (past infancy), inflammatory conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies), mental health, etc. While we know so much more than we did just ten years ago, there's still so much to learn.

 What we do know, however, is that the typical diet in most countries does not provide enough EPA and DHA.

NutraIngredients.com Article highlights

Fish oil supply crisis forces omega-3 price hike at DSM

By Shane Starling, 22-Feb-2013

Fish oil supply crisis forces omega-3 price hike at DSM

DSM’s bulging lipid business has bumped fish-sourced omega-3 oil prices 15% as crude fish oil stock prices skyrocket in the face of increasing demands on global fisheries. “The pricing adjustment is needed to recover from cost increases for sourcing crude fish oils rich in omega-3. The trading price for crude fish oil has reached an all-time high,” DSM said. A building crisis in fish-sourced omega-3 is not new.

Last year, former chairman of the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) and strategic business development executive at Norwegian omega-3 supplier EPAX, Baldur Hjaltason, observed: “The main fisheries in Morocco and Peru are near capacity, so you have to ask the question: Where is the omega-3 going to come from if it keeps growing as it forecast to?”

He added: “…the industry has a problem it needs to tackle now.”

DSM became the world’s biggest fish oil supplier after acquiring Ocean Nutrition Canada for €430m in the middle of last year. In 2010 it paid about €830m for the world’s leading algae-sourced omega-3 supplier, Martek Biosciences.

Packaged Facts estimates the global market for human use omega-3 products at €25.88bn in 2016, up from €18.95bn in 2011.

NutraIngredients.com Article highlights

Questions about Peruvian fishery highlight advantages of algal omega-3 supply, expert says

By Hank Schultz, 27-Oct-2014

Related topics: Omega-3s & Nutritional oils, Cardiovascular health, Immune support, Inflammation, Sports nutrition, Suppliers It’s unclear what the impending closure of the Peruvian anchovy fishing season will have on the long term supply picture in the omega-3s sphere. But one thing is clear, it will highlight the security advantages that algal ingredients provide, an expert says.

“Humans have historically been very poor managers of marine fisheries and ecosystems: some dramatic examples are the collapse of the Northwest Atlantic cod fishery and the California sardine fishery. I can only hope that this dramatic step taken by IMARPE (the Peruvian fishing authority) will have a real impact and will protect this important marine ecosystem,” Hart said.

“Second, we may not completely understand the longer-term impacts of climate change. Ocean conditions, whether or not as part of an El Nino event, can have long-term impacts on the viability and robustness of marine ecosystems. The conditions this year in Peru may be a blip, or they could be part of a longer-term adjustment of the ecosystem to changing climate conditions,” he said.

“The health benefits and public health importance of omega-3s are so well established, it is now mainly a function of having enough supply of omega-3s to meet the health need.

GOED estimates that the World Health Organization omega-3 intake recommendation of 250mg / day requires approximately 650 thousand metric tons of EPA/DHA; while the current ocean capacity is only 530 thousand tons.

When taking into account higher dosages of omega-3s from some of the emerging research and public health recommendations (450 or 1000mg / day), this supply gap becomes even larger. It is clear that an alternate and sustainable source of omega-3s is needed,” he said.

“In the longer term, as the demand for omega-3s continues to increase and more pressure is put on marine ecosystems, one would expect that this supply volatility to have negative consequences—including a consistent trend of increasing prices. This will make alternate sources with a stable supply much more valuable and desired,” Hart said.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Increase Brain Volume

By Julius Goepp, MD • www.ProHealth.com • October 24, 2014

The cardioprotective power of omega-3 fatty acids has been thoroughly documented in clinical literature. Less well known is their paramount role in optimizing many facets of brain function, from depression, cognition, and memory to mental health.

 Key Nutrient from the Cradle to the Grave

Approximately 8% of the brain’s weight is comprised of omega-3 fatty acids3-the building block for an estimated 100 billion neurons. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) play a host of vital roles in neuronal structure and function, protecting them from oxidative damage, inflammation, and the cumulative destruction inflicted by other chronic insults.

Embedded in the omega-3-rich neuronal membrane are numerous proteins and complex molecules required for electrochemical transmission and signal reception. Scientists have recently shown that the precise balance of fatty acids in brain cells helps determine whether a given nerve cell will be protected against injury or inflammation, or whether it will instead succumb to the injury.

Omega-3s accumulate in the human brain during fetal development. The amount of the omega-3 DHA has been closely tied to intelligence and cognitive performance in infancy and childhood. But the omega-3 content of brain cell membranes involved in essential memory-processing areas diminishes with advancing age and in certain chronic brain disorders.

These findings have led scientists to suspect a role for omega-3 deterioration in development of typical age-related cognitive decline such as that seen in Alzheimer’s and chronic disease.

What You Need to Know: Reverse Brain Aging• Lipids comprise a significant portion of the brain. Of these lipids, omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important.

• Omega-3 fatty acids exert profound anti-aging effects on brain structure and function, from cognition and memory to mental health and Alzheimer’s prevention.

• They have recently been associated with increased volume of the brain’s gray matter, especially in those regions associated with happiness, and they boost intelligence through enhanced function from birth onwards.

• They support brain cell structure, increase the production of vital neurotransmitters, and blunt oxidative and inflammatory damage.

• Ranges of 1,000-3,000 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA have been shown to yield significant improvements in symptoms of depression, aggression, and other mental disorders, as well as protection against early cognitive decline and even early Alzheimer’s disease.

 Summary

An estimated 8% of brain matter is composed of omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids exert profound anti-aging effects on brain structure and function, from cognition and memory to mental health and Alzheimer’s prevention. They have recently been associated with increased volume of the brain’s gray matter, especially in those regions associated with happiness, and they also boost intelligence through enhanced function from birth onwards. They support brain cell structure, increase the production of vital neurotransmitters and blunt oxidative and inflammatory damage. Ranges of 1,000-3,000 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA have been shown to yield significant improvements in symptoms of depression, aggression, and other mental disorders, as well as protection against early cognitive decline and even early Alzheimer’s disease.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids Increase Brain Volume

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Increase Brain Volume

By Julius Goepp, MD •

www.ProHealth.com • October 24, 2014

Summary

 An estimated 8% of brain matter is composed of omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids exert profound anti-aging effects on brain structure and function, from cognition and memory to mental health and Alzheimer’s prevention. They have recently been associated with increased volume of the brain’s gray matter, especially in those regions associated with happiness, and they also boost intelligence through enhanced function from birth onwards. They support brain cell structure, increase the production of vital neurotransmitters and blunt oxidative and inflammatory damage. Ranges of 1,000-3,000 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA have been shown to yield significant improvements in symptoms of depression, aggression, and other mental disorders, as well as protection against early cognitive decline and even early Alzheimer’s disease.