Back to search


Screening marine microalgae and terrestrial bacteria; in search of novel compounds of potential medicinal and other industrial values

Awarded: NOK 4.5 mill.

In this project, twelve different algae species/strains have been cultivated, upscaled, extracted and analyzed. I.e 112 different extracts from 56 different batches of biomass have been tested for anticancer effects in six different cell lines including cells from virally induced cancer as well as one primary cell culture. Of the 56 batches, 25 gave rise to extracts showing strong inhibition of cell metabolism in one or more cell lines and nine showed a weaker inhibition. Extracts from four of the 12 microalgae showed a selective inhibition of one cell line only, indicating a high potential for development of a selective cytotoxic agent that can be used in cancer treatment. Potential cancer inhibiting and specific anti-viral effects have also been observed after exposure of the cells to bioactive extract. Eleven strains of micro algae has been subjected to different types of stress, i.e. UVA, high light intensities and low temperatures followed by extraction of bioactive compounds using two different solvents. A number of different extracts and corresponding controls have been investigated. This far, changes in metabolite production has been observed for two strains. The effects will be further evaluated in new projects: Extracts from the positive strains will be further fractionated in order to identify the bioactive compound. Extracts prepared will also be investigated for effect on the cell cycle of human cancer cells. Anti-metastatic potential will also be further investigated by analyzing the prepared extracts.

OUTCOMES - Cultured, extracted and distributed microalgae for targeted and non targeted screening - Optimized the pilot scale production of metabolites with bio­functional properties - Identified several extracts with anti-cancer and anti-viral effects from ten different micro algae strains - Investigated anti-metastatic effects of several microalgae extracts. No effect found - Evaluated the potencial for comercialization of metabolites with bio­functional properties IMPACT - A number of bioactive compounds with specific bioactive properties have been indentified. After further investigation in new projects, the probability for development of new therapeutic anticancer compounds is high. Furthermore, new knowledge from stress physiology experiments on microalgae has increased the probability for detection of new anti-cancer drugs

The project entitled "Screening marine microalgae and terrestrial bacteria; in search of novel compounds of potential medicinal and other industrial values­ SCREAM" will generate a transnational long­term research co­ operation platform within the EU­Latin America Programme between Norway (The Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research­, Bioforsk), Chile (Fraunhofer Chile Research­, FCR), Romania (SC PROPLANTA SR) and Peru (Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, UPCH). The project aims at identifying compounds produced by marine microalgae and terrestrial bacteria, with high value for industrial use. More specifically, the project will search for compounds that can be used for cancer treatments and food production through extensive interactions between the four partners and optimal use of each participant´s expertise and experience. The expected results includes identification of novel cancer inhibiting metabolites from microalgae and bacteria, more specifically metabolites with ability to regulate cancer cell proliferation and/or invasion. Identification of compounds suitable for use in food products which are produced in large amounts by microalgae, such as carotenoids, PUFAs, vitamins and other antioxidants in addition to the potential of finding new metabolites with useful effects. Furthermore, SCREAM aims at pinpointing the mechanisms and metabolic pathways involved in production of the selected novel metabolites. The novelty of SCREAM derives from a number of original and innovative activities that will undoubtedly lead to a number of innovations within cancer research and functional food with the potential for further exploitation. This highly innovative project has great economic potential, which will be demonstrated through economic analysis of the products and production process. The commercialisation potential will be carefully evaluated through market analysis taking into account technological, economic and legal aspects.

Funding scheme: