The collaboration looks to support Aker’s new delivery platform, LYSOVETA that is based on lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC)-bound EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) derived from krill.
The complex enables EPA and DHA to pass through the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain as well as enriching the retina to improve ocular health.
“The LPC transporter allows EPA and DHA to enter the brain and the retina,” explains Papasani Subbaiah, professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular genetics at the UIC College of Medicine.
“We have demonstrated that LPC- bound EPA and DHA from krill oil have a huge beneficial effect on the uptake levels in these organs.”
As part of the agreement, the Oslo-based firm will receive an exclusive license to the current intellectual property resulting from Professor Subbaiah’s work on LPC-EPA/DHA.
Aker will also supply the UIC team with LPC-bound EPA and DHA derived from Antarctic krill to further their research.
LPC-EPA and depression
Prof Subbaiah was the lead author of a recent study looking into LPC-EPA’s ability to tackle disorders such as depression by increasing levels of EPA levels in the brain.
He commented that boosting EPA levels in the brain through consuming EPA had proven difficult because the amount of EPA that would need to be ingested to show increases in brain EPA levels was quite large - 40 to 50 millilitres (ml) daily.
“Our partnership with the University of Illinois Chicago marks the first step in establishing a strong network of collaborators within the LPC-bound EPA and DHA field,” says Matts Johansen, CEO, Aker BioMarine.
“We will continue to explore the potential of LPC-bound EPA and DHA from krill, to gain a broader and in-depth understanding of how LYSOVETA can benefit brain and eye function.
“There is no better way to kick this off than with a world-leading research team on this subject by our side,”
Launched in November 2020, the firm looks to apply the LYSOVETA platform to healthy ageing as well as eye and brain health.
This development is especially applicable during the early years and late in life, where the most pronounced structural and cognitive changes occur.
Research suggests that targeted delivery of essential fatty acids may be of particular importance in periods of accelerated alterations in brain structure.
Aker states that further research on the role of LPC-EPA/DHA from a lifespan perspective could therefore provide benefits both to individuals and to society as a whole.
Scaling up production
The firm revealed that it was to scale up production capacity of the molecule at its manufacturing plant in Houston with regulatory approval for the dietary supplement version of LYSOVETA expected by the end of 2022.
Aker added it was also seeking partners to pursue commercial opportunities in the pharmaceutical and infant formula segment.
The agreement with UIC also looks to be the first in a number of academic-industry partnerships as Aker revealed its intentions to reaching out to universities and research organisations with material and knowhow to stimulate further research.
"It is important to bring our findings into the real world, to test and prove the commercial potential of LPC-bound EPA and DHA in terms of its benefits on human health,” adds Hyunjin Kim, Associate Technology Manager at UIC’s Office of Technology Management.
“We are excited about this collaboration with Aker BioMarine, a partner whose products are firmly rooted in science.”