Algatech licenses microalgae tech to launch β-1,3-glucan-rich products

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Microalgae-derived ingredient specialists Algatech are to license the rights to the production of β-1,3-glucan from microalgae Euglena gracilis from US biotech firm F3 Platform Biologics.

The deal gives Algatech the capabilities to extract a more concentrated and purer from of β-1,3-glucan with which the firm looks to launch several products for human and animal health.

“Currently only a tiny fraction of the world’s microalgae has been developed for commercial use, despite the vast potential these organisms can have in tackling societal health issues,” said ​Hagai Stadler, chief executive officer of Algatech.

“We expect to launch the first Euglena-based product in the coming months and, following the launch of FucoVitallast year, it will be Algatech’s third commercial product."

β-1,3-glucans appear to act as immunomodulators, priming immune cells to tackle tumorous cells. Studies also point towards an anti-infective property meaning β-glucans may be used to address cancer and infectious diseases.

Microalgae use in Europe

Algatech are one of a handful of European companies exploring the health benefits of microalgae. Its product FucoVital is made with a compound derived from the Phaeodactylum tricornutum​ microalgae.

This type of microalgae is a naturally rich source of fucoxanthin, an orange-brown carotenoid, which plays a part in photosynthesis and helps protect the microalgae from oxidative stress.

With efforts now focused on the β-1,3-glucans, Algatech now look to capitalise on the health-affirming polysaccharide that also contains protein, healthy fats and 23 other vitamins.

Studies show that these properties make it a valuable tool for boosting human immunity, increasing the body’s antibodies by 84% and supporting its ability to fight infection.

The firm says that these benefits to human health also apply to animals – enhanced β-1,3-glucan intake has been proven to prime immune systems and support growth at optimal rates.

In practice, the powder product can be added to shakes, protein drinks, nutritional bars, cookies, yogurt, puddings and chocolate for added health benefits, making it accessible and affordable for mass-market consumption.

“After years of development, we are happy to have found a home for our cutting-edge technology,” ​said Jonathan Peskoff, chief operating officer of F3 Platform Biologics.

“Algatech’s cultivation and marketing capabilities will allow this technology to prosper and will ensure that its benefits are realised by customers around the world.

“We are proud of the team’s achievements, especially the head of the project, Dr. Brad Cox, who will lead fermentation technology at Algatech.”

AstaPure astaxanthin

Along with FucoVital, Algatech manufacture and supply astaxanthin, an antioxidants sourced from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, which it markets as AstaPure.

Said by Algatech to be over 500 times stronger than vitamin E and much more potent than other carotenoids, astaxanthin is a rich, dark red pigment that gives shrimp, krill and salmon their distinctive colours.

Its health benefits are said to guard against the oxidative stress linked to disorders relating to central nervous system, men’s fertility, eye health, digestive system and the cardiovascular and muscular system.

In May 2019, French company Solabia Group acquired Algatech in a deal that follows its acquisition of Algues & Mer in 2016.

Commenting on the latest licensing deal, Geoffroy Madelin, deputy CEO of Solabia Group said, “The licensing of F3’s technology is in line with Algatech’s mission and it will continue to expand and lead in the global cultivation and commercialisation of microalgae.

“We expect the market for microalgae-derived products, beyond the use for health reasons, to continue to grow at an exponential rate in the near-term and we are excited to be at the forefront of this exciting growth trajectory, and to serve both the nutrition and cosmetic markets.”

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