The announcement follows last year's agreement with Martek Biosciences to develop a safflower oil rich with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Under the multi-year agreement, privately held SemBioSys will use its proprietary oilbody-based technology - the Stratosome Biologics System -to develop GLA-rich safflower oils for Arcadia. SemBioSys will receive research payments, milestone payments and royalties on new product sales.
California-based Arcadia Biosciences develops agricultural products that improve the environment and enhance human health. GLA, or gamma linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid that is needed for normal skin function. It is also thought to alleviate pain and inflammation. GLA supplementation has been widely investigated for treatment of atopic eczema although efficacy has been inconsistent.
The body can produce GLA from linoleic acid, which is found in corn, sunflower, soy, peanut and flaxseed oils, as well as safflower. However, the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA can be difficult if people lack adequate levels of vitamins B6 and B3, as well as magnesium and zinc.
The conversion is also thought to be blocked by a high amount of trans-fatty acids and saturated fat in the diet, which in North America can be significant.
Blackcurrant, borage and evening primrose are among the few oilseeds that are rich in GLA and help eliminate the need to rely on the biochemical creation of GLA inside the body from linoleic acid.
SemBioSys has signed five agreements on its technology in the last six months, including deals with Syngenta, Lonza and Dow AgroSciences for a variety of different products.