síbiotech has started to cultivate lipid-rich microalgae strains for Omega-3 fatty acid extraction

This spring, síbiotech’s research and development team began working on a project to establish a platform for cultivating different strains of lipid-rich microalgae in photobioreactors. The project’s goal is large-scale cultivation and extraction of Omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to be used in nutraceutical products. The newly developed products are intended to be encapsulated in soft gel capsules, and their effectiveness and bioavailability will be assessed in a clinical trial.

How does microalgae cultivation work?
Microalgae cultivation occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the biomass is grown, and optimal conditions are studied to maximize biomass growth. In the second phase, changes in various cultivation factors (light intensity, temperature, CO2 and N2 amount etc.) are studied to redirect the microalgae’s biochemical processes towards the desired synthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Microalgae – a significant and sustainable source of essential fatty acids
Until now, valuable and essential fatty acids were obtained from fish, fish oil, and other marine products, but extraction from these sources is not sustainable as it results in overfishing. The oceans and seas would be critically depleted to meet the growing demand for Omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, due to global industrialisation, various toxic compounds and heavy metals accumulate in fish and marine products. Using microalgae cultivated in photobioreactors mitigates these risks as they are propagated in controlled conditions, do not contain pollution and heavy metals, and ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly fatty acid production. Furthermore, such products are vegan-friendly, making them accessible to everyone.

Currently, products containing Omega-3 fatty acids derived from microalgae, primarily DHA, are available in the market. In the síbiotechs’s project, the main criteria for selecting microalgae strains are to provide the highest possible Omega-3 concentration, focusing on eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Reduces the risk of inflammation, heart disease and has anti-ageing effects
EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid, is a polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acid with various health-promoting properties, the most known being reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and its anti-inflammatory effect. Recent research hypothesizes that reducing inflammation is one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of various diseases. In addition, several studies highlight additional health benefits of EPA, such as its use in lowering high blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, possessing anti-cancer and antidepressant properties, and anti-ageing and antioxidant effects. Recent studies suggest that EPA has a potent anti-inflammatory and insulin sensitivity-improving effect in individuals with metabolic disorders.

Extraction of microalgae with innovative and sustainable technology
The supercritical fluid extraction technology for Omega-3 EPA and antioxidants from microalgae utilizes carbon dioxide (CO2), subjected to pressure and moderate temperatures, which is gentle for obtaining natural bioactive compounds. The key advantages of this modern and sustainable technology are as follows:
• efficient extraction of fatty acids and fat-soluble bioactive compounds without chemical modification, preserving their natural chemical form, ensuring effective absorption in the body;
• extraction provides fat-soluble compounds, free from impurities, including proteins, fibres, allergens, ash, and heavy metals (as CO2 does not dissolve them);
• obtained extracts are concentrated and effective in small doses;
• due to the high-pressure environment during extraction, obtained products have high microbiological purity, and the extraction process avoids exposure to oxygen, which is essential for preventing fatty acid from oxidation;
• organic solvents are not used in the extraction process;
• CO2, after extraction, is returned to a gaseous state and separated from the final product, making this technology to be like “solvent-free”;
• The extraction process is environmentally friendly, as CO2 is not released into the atmosphere and is collected for use in subsequent extraction cycles.

Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in collaboration opportunities or would like to receive more information: maestro@sibiotech.com

Reference: Project: “Extraction and Enrichment of Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Microalgae Cultivated in Closed Bioreactors,” carried out in the framework of Competence Centre of SIA “VMKC,” funded by the EU Recovery Fund NextGenerationEU, project No.