In the northwest region of Spain lies Asturias, an area along the Bay of Biscay. The area, known for its rugged coast, is home to Neoalgae, a biotechnological research and development company.
Neoalgae Micro Seaweeds is a partner of Lubrizol Life Science Health, the Barcelona-based company behind a new patent-pending microalgae product developed for healthy aging.
ASTAGILE is a sustainable, certified organic astaxanthin (Haematococcus pluvialis) microencapsulated with spirulina. The two ingredients have been combined in a synergistic algae blend to promote mental agility and healthy aging.
Neoalgae is the first step in the microcapsule’s manufacturing process.
The making of ASTAGILE
“For the cultivation stage, Neoalgae production is based in a hybrid production system with the use of photobioreactors followed by a final growing phase in an indoor facility (greenhouse),” explained Isabel Gomez, Global Marketing Manager of Lubrizol Life Science Health nutraceutical Business. Gomez explained that there are two-stage culture processes involved in the growing method:
“During the first stage, called ‘green phase,’ vegetative growth takes place. Key parameters of this phase have been optimized in order to achieve the most cellular density in the lease time possible. Biological and quality control are carried out daily in order to assure proper growth and biomass quality.”
After the green phase is the red phase, which comes after biomass is successfully grown and has reached a high cell density.
“During this stage the accumulation of astaxanthin is induced by several stress environmental factors such as light, temperature, pH, salt concentration, or nutritional starvation. The stress modifies the anabolic metabolism of the cell; therefore, microalgae synthesizes astaxanthin.”
“We’ve applied cutting-edge technology to ensure stability of the naturally occurring carotenoids, that coupled with our microencapsulation technology allows us to draw out the maximum antioxidant capacity and achieve full functional benefits, all while using less of the astaxanthin dose — enabling a more cost-efficient solution for those interested in preserving and enhancing their cognitive function," said Gomez.
Indeed, the product uses a patent-pending microencapsulation process that uses spirulina and a freeze-drying technique called lyophilization. The technique removes water to protect and stabilize the astaxanthin oil.
“Spirulina does not only act as an encapsulant agent. The antioxidant power of ASTAGILE is improved by having spirulina in the formulation. According to our results on antioxidant capacity, 1.9% of astaxanthin contained in ASTAGILE has the same antioxidant power than 7.2% of unencapsulated astaxanthin,” noted Gomez. “We attribute this to the fact that the inclusion of spirulina, also rich in antioxidant components like phycocyanin, adds antioxidant capacity to the astaxanthin.”
Gomez explained to NutraIngredients-USA that astaxanthin is a very potent antioxidant ingredient found in nature, but at the same time, it is very sensitive to oxidation. “So our development has been focused to solve the stability of this ingredient using natural and environmentally friendly solutions. So, all the stages during the manufacturing process have been designed to avoid at maximum any oxidation starting reaction. For this reason, we use lyophilization in different steps of the process.”
According to Gomez, a key challenge during the astaxanthin extraction is managing the conditions so that the cell disruption and dehydration from Haematococcus pluvialis are done as gentle and controlled as possible in order to avoid excessive temperatures that could damage or destabilize the astaxanthin molecules.
“Astaxanthin plays a key role in this space as it has a unique mechanism being able to get through the blood-brain barrier, thus providing an antioxidant protection to the brain structures and a neuroprotective effect by reducing oxidative stress,” explained Gomez.
“According to the studies carried out, ASTAGILE has been shown to boost memory performance and cognition, relieve ameliorated learning, and impart a neuroprotective effect predominantly attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties," said Gomez, who added that the these studies are slated to be available in early 2021.
ASTAGILE can be included in any nutraceutical product meant to support healthy aging and active living. It comes in a powdered format which can be integrated into multiple applications, such as tablets and capsules, and in being water-dispersible, it is suitable for nutritional powders for shakes and sport nutrition beverages.