New algae-derived EPA to target pharma-omega-3 market

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Marketing

New Zealand-based Photonz Corporation has signed an agreement with Separex to develop a pharma-grade EPA omega-3 manufacturing process from fermented microalgal biomass.

The agreement, which sees Separex develop a manufacturing process to concentrate the EPA from a lipid-rich biomass produced by Photonz's proprietary processes, represents another potential addition to the omega-3 market.

At the GOED Exchange, held in Salt Lake City in January, the topic of co-existence of pharma and dietary supplement omega-3’s was discussed. According to Adam Ismail, executive director of GOED, pharma and dietary supplement omega-3’s already co-exist from a regulatory standpoint.

Both Dr Douglas MacKay, of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and Naoyuki Tanaka, from Nippon Suisan Kaisal (Nissul) in Japan suggested that dietary supplement manufacturers view omega-3 drugs not as competition for market share, but as validating in the public eye the health-promoting benefits of omega-3’s.


"[The] announcement marks an important stage in the commercialisation of Photonz technology,"​ said Greg Moss-Smith, Photonz’s chief executive. "Our work to date has been focused on developing the fermentation and extraction processes to industrial scale.

“In this new phase, we are working on downstream processes for concentration and purification, looking towards an end-product specification that will address a significant opportunity in the US$60 billion cardiovascular disease (CVD) market,”​ he added.

In April 2010, Photonz announced the feasibility of its continuous fermentation system and then harvested the first batch of algal biomass from its prototype industrial plant. A batch of its lipid-rich biomass was recently sent to Separex, where it will pilot the concentration technology, develop it as a continuous process, and then scale it to industrial volumes. This should be completed within the next six months, said Photonz.

"Separex has extensive experience in working with this type of oil, currently derived from non-algal sources, such as fish,"​ said Mr Moss-Smith. "That experience is of considerable importance because, to meet the needs of the CVD market, our product will have to be identical to fish-derived product.”

The high purity EPA will be marketed toward pharmaceutical applications, said Photonz.

In an email to, Moss-Smith explained that the pharmaceutical grade product that is the topic of the article is 96 percent pure EPA.

"We do not have plans to market this product into the Supplements market but we are actively considering whether to launch a product of medium purity for the Supplements sector,"​ he added. "No decision has been made."

Aurora’s offering

At the start of this week California’s Aurora Algae announced the launch of its new A2 product portfolio, including protein-rich powder and a ‘game changing’ sustainable EPA-rich omega-3 oil.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA, Leslie van der Meulen, vice president of business development for Aurora Algae, explained that the company can produce a vegetarian food source and renewable biofuel products, year-round with a single crop.

“The allergen-free, vegetarian sourced A2 EPA Pure will be a game changer,”​ said van der Meulen. “The unique properties and infinitely scalable nature of our algae platform will allow our customers to safely invest in the abundant application potential of EPA, knowing their supply is guaranteed.”

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