Photonz Corporation signs with Separex to develop Omega-3 concentration process
Posted on Apr. 6, 2011
Under the agreement Separex, under a license of Stanipharm, will develop a manufacturing process, scalable to industrial volumes, to concentrate the Omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which Photonz extracts from fermented microalgal biomass.
Photonz's proprietary processes produce the EPA by fermenting a marine microalgal clone (improved by strain selection not genetic engineering) to produce a biomass rich in lipids from which it extracts the Omega-3.
The agreement follows two other significant achievements, announced last year, in which Photonz proved the feasibility of its continuous fermentation system and then harvested the first batch of algal biomass from its prototype industrial plant. The plant is now producing on a small industrial scale and has the potential to produce tonnes of algal material per year. The lipids it produces will be used by Separex to produce concentrated EPA. Photonz is, in parallel, targetting the development of downstream purification processes to produce high purity EPA, suitable for pharmaceutical applications, including novel therapeutics.
"Today's announcement marks an important stage in the commercialisation of Photonz technology," says Chief Executive, Greg Moss-Smith. "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."
Separex is a world-leader in applying supercritical fluid technologies to industrial processes for natural products and biomaterials. It develops highly-selective supercritical fluid extraction processes, generally operating in continuous mode using supercritical carbon dioxide as a solvent for fractionating lipids, including polyunsaturated fatty acids like EPA.
"Separex has extensive experience in working with this type of oil, currently derived from non-algal sources, such as fish," says 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.
Photonz has recently sent Separex its first batch of material. Separex will first pilot the concentration technology, develop it as a continuous process, then scale it to industrial volumes. This should be completed within the next six months. Once the process has been developed Separex will transfer the technology to a contract manufacturer.
Founded in New Zealand in 2002, Photonz Corporation produces the high-quality, high-value omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a critical ingredient in novel therapeutics for the cardiovascular disease market. Photonz has developed a unique fermentation process that allows it to produce EPA directly from marine microalgae, making it a reliable and sustainable ingredient for the pharmaceutical industry. Photonz currently has a pilot industrial scale plant producing samples and aims to begin manufacturing at industrial scale in 2012. For more information please visit www.photonzcorp.com.