Algenuity, based in the UK, is focused on using algae to develop therapeutic agents, and has received assistance on the project from ERA CoBioTech. The latter is a project financed by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, which gives selected projects capital whilst also providing scientific expertise.
Algenuity received backing to develop novel biotechnological production for the sustainable synthesis of algae, for pharmaceutical purposes, using sunlight and carbon dioxide.
A spokesperson from Algenuity explained what the three-year MicroalgaE as Renewable Innovative green cell facTories project will entail: “[It] is specifically concerned with the production of a variety of therapeutic diterpenes to commercially viable yields, using the unique properties of microalgae as a production platform.”
Detailing exactly why microalgae provide such a good synthetic biology platform, the spokesperson said, “Microalgae represent an ideal chassis for bioproduction of therapeutic diterpenes. They can be cultivated to high density at an industrial scale using well-established bioreactor designs; you don’t have to redesign a whole plant, the solution for algal scale-up already exists. They are robust and sustainable bioprocess organisms by virtue of having the metabolic flexibility to grow under photosynthetic (light and carbon dioxide) or mixotrophic (carbohydrate-supplemented) conditions according to requirements.”
The fact microalgae only require light and/or carbon dioxide for sustenance makes one of the strengths of the projects that it is environmentally sustainable. In addition, the spokesperson noted that it also makes the production of microalgae ‘economically viable’, as well as being scalable in production.
Horizon 2020 has also funded improving the scalability of stem cells to bring potential treatment, such as for heart therapies, through to commercial use.