Auckland-based Photonz has developed a fermentation process to make the omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), from marine microalgae as an ingredient for the pharmaceutical and possibly the nutraceutical industry.
Last year, Photonz proved the feasibility of its process in its pilot plant, Greg-Moss Smith, Photonz CEO, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Photonz has now transferred that process to a facility in Canada, which has successfully replicated it and increased the scale of production to several tonne fermentations,” he disclosed.
Moss-Smith indicated that the company will begin with producing EPA initially for pharmaceutical applications and is not targeting the food industry yet, but may do so in time.
“We are targeting the cardiovascular disease market [domestically and internationally], where high purity EPA is the critical ingredient a new class of drugs to be used in combination with statins,” he added.
Moss-Smith said that this algal material will be used to produce concentrated EPA, and Photonz is currently working with a partner to develop the downstream purification processes “to produce high purity EPA, suitable for pharmaceutical applications, including novel therapeutics.”
“The critical issue is not just producing a lot of EPA-rich biomass but producing a feedstock that is economic to [produce] to high purity,” he remarked.
According to Moss-Smith, by producing EPA from algae,Photonz is able to offer companies both quality and the security of supply from a sustainable source.
“For decades fish have been the middle men in EPA production. Photonz is cutting them out of the supply chain and thereby reducing the risk for manufacturers and customers,” he said.
“We’re on track to produce high purity EPA to market, sustainable EPA that’s not reliant on the fishing industry,” he added.