BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, January, 28, 2011 -- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the PTT Chemical Public Company Ltd. (PTT) in Thailand have signed a research and development collaboration agreement for commercial development of BGU's proprietary green algae strain.
The agreement is for the production of dihomo gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA- Omega 6) using BGU's mutant strain of the green microalgae Parietochloris incise. The joint research will focus on optimizing DGLA production through advanced algae cultivation methods and large-scale processing in a commercially viable setting.
The parties regard this cooperation as a first step in a long lasting collaboration toward developing additional valuable bio-chemicals from microalgae, as well as using these microorganisms as potential feed stocks for biofuels. The BGU strain accumulates up to 12 to 15 percent (of dry wt.) DGLA in cytoplasmic oil bodies and to date is the only plant source capable of producing appreciable DGLA quantities. Its ability to deposit DGLA in triacylglycerols makes the organism a promising source for pharmaceutical purposes.
DGLA is a precursor for the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1 and its use could aid in the treatment of chronic inflammations, such as atopic eczema, psoriasis, asthma and arthritis, as well as in reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the risk for heart attacks. DGLA's market potential is estimated at $300 million by 2015.
According to Prof. Sammy Boussiba, director of the Landau Family Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory (MBL) at BGU's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, "We believe that this joint project will lead to the development of the first pilot plant for the commercial production of DGLA. We are proud that PTT Chemical has recognized the capability of our team, an outstanding group of academics who have proven their ability to compete in the international marketplace and joined our commitment to the highest level of research."
About the Landau Family Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory
Ben-Gurion University's Landau Family Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory (MBL) at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research represents one of the few research centers that are interfacing basic algal physiology with industrial applications. As an outcome of this work, the group has been instrumental in developing one of the largest and most advanced tubular photobioreactor facilities (200-300 m3) for the production of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus biomass. MBL uses algae in all aspects of environmental remediation, as well as a potential alternative energy source (biofuel).
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. For more information, please visit www.aabgu.org