HEPI & ATP3 move toward scaling up and commercializing algae derived products

Over the past year, the partnership between Health Enhancement Products, Inc. (HEPI), the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) and the Algae Test-bed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) partnered for a sponsored research project at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus in Mesa, Arizona, has proven to be beneficial for all parties.

“The collaboration with Dr. Thomas Dempster and Dr. Henri Gerken at AzCATI has been a positive experience from the very start,” said HEPI President and CEO Andrew Dahl. “They were immediately able to implement a complex and aggressive development program that will get our product validated and market-ready within a reasonable timeframe. Their responsiveness coupled with innovative thinking is an added bonus.”

HEPI is a health and wellness company engaged in the development of algae-centered, natural products for the use in dietary supplements and as functional food ingredients. HEPI investigates and licenses algae-derived, high-value bioactive molecules that benefit both human and animal health.

During the research project, AzCATI and ATP3 have been assisting HEPI with:

  • Developing a technique that will rapidly screen organisms for bioactivity
  • Developing methods for the quantification of bioactive compounds
  • Investigating the mode of synthesis for bioactive compounds
  • Mass-culturing organisms that produce bioactive compounds for bovine and canine trials

HEPI has invested substantively in this project by funding a full-time visiting scholar, Sara Debray, from the University of Strasbourg in France. Debray has gained valuable experience on the HEPI project. She has been instrumental in biomass scale-up and analytical activities.Debray returns to France in August to defend her Master’s degree in Plant Sciences with an emphasis in Development of Plant Resources.

The mass-culture process requires considerable effort in order to determine the most cost-efficient and sterile production techniques. The next step toward the commercialization of HEPI’s unique bioactive molecules is the installation of a positive pressurized greenhouse cover (PPGC) at AzCATI to begin biomass scale-up. The new PPGC creates a sterile environment for two 1000-liter open-raceway ponds. Greenhouse air is circulated at 20,000 cubic feet per minute through a 0.3 µm HEPA filter to remove potential culture contaminants.

Most recently, AzCATI and ATP3 have been producing biomass and concentrated supernatant samples to be used for feed trials and topical applications in mammals. Preliminary results suggest that the bioactive molecules may prove efficacious in addressing bovine mastitis, a $3 billion annual problem for the US dairy industry. Results from an additional study of osteoarthritis in rats are still being analyzed, but initial observations have yielded very promising anti-inflammatory results that may find their way into dietary supplements for companion animals.

Further confirmation of these positive benefits is currently underway. The algal biomass may prove to be a real alternative to glucosamine and chondroitin supplements currently marketed for the relief of osteoarthritis related pain in aging canines and other companion animals.

“It’s been a very positive experience working with the HEPI team,” said Thomas Dempster, AzCATI associate research professor and ATP3 testbed site coordinator. “This is a complex, interconnected undertaking with a lot of interaction between independent researchers and CRO’s across the country. It’s great have an opportunity to work with a group so dedicated to high standards of scientific research and development.”

“HEPI is extremely pleased with the progress at AzCATI/ATP3 during the first year of our relationship,” Dahl said. “We anticipate making great strides toward scale-up and commercialization during the next year of our collaboration.”

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Sara Debray, ASU Visiting Scholar, harvests HEPI biomass for upcoming feed trials and topical applications in mammals.
Completion of the Positive Pressure Greenhouse Cover (PPGC) represents AzCATI’s next step in the scale-up process to increase capacity for HEPI biomass production in a contaminant-free environment.