Algae researchers partner to develop bioactive molecules

Researchers at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) and the ASU-led Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) have made a one-year agreement with Health Enhancement Products, Inc. (HEPI), which investigates and licenses algae-derived, high-value bioactive molecules that benefit human and animal health.

The three entities aim to work together to commercialize one of HEPI’s unique bioactive molecules.

The scope of the research project includes:

• Development of a technique to rapidly screen organisms for bioactivity

• Development of methods for quantification of bioactive compounds

• Investigation of the mode of synthesis for bioactive compounds

• Mass-culturing of organisms that produce bioactive compounds for bovine and canine trials

“The research we are doing at AzCATI/ATP3 on HEPI’s proprietary molecules accelerates the process of going to market as we are refining our knowledge about the bioactives and optimizing culture growth, allowing for the scale-up to commercial production,” said Dr. Thomas A. Dempster, a research associate professor at AzCATI and the ATP3 test-bed site coordinator.

“In HEPI’s years of research we have identified bioactive molecules with verifiable health benefits for humans and animals that have attracted quite a lot of attention from potential licensors,” said HEPI CEO Andrew Dahl. “Now is the appropriate time to commercialize the research, beginning with the cultures and organisms responsible for creating the bioactive compounds.”

“The collaboration with Dr. Thomas Dempster and Dr. Henri Gerken at AzCATI/ATP3 has yielded a positive outcome from the very start. We were able to immediately kick off a complex and aggressive development program that will get our product validated and market-ready within a reasonable timeframe. The responsiveness and innovative thinking is an added bonus.”

The mass-culture process requires a considerable effort to determine the most cost-efficient and timely production techniques, which in the case of the target organisms, may require multi-stage culturing and extraction.

“We’re able to look at different culturing techniques, procedures and outcomes, assist with cost modeling and suggest appropriate solutions in a timely and efficient manner,” said Dempster. “We look forward to working with HEPI to determine a feasible production process that meets all compliance and financial benchmarks.”

“Let’s remember that a ‘sustainable’ business model really means a profitable business model, because without the prospect of profitability, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to attract capital, attract top talent, meet operating expenses and fuel any meaningful growth,” added Dahl. “Like any other form of agriculture or aquaculture, algae production will inevitably mature into a high-volume, capital-intensive model where process control and efficiency will make the difference between a solid return and a hatful of excuses.”