Microalgae research work. (Photo: Centro Tecnologico Ainia/Stock File/FIS)
Microalgae as a source of food to boost the immune system
Wednesday, June 08, 2011, 16:30 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers developed the first prototypes of food with immuno-stimulatory functions incorporating compounds derived from microalgae.
This achievement is part of Inmugal project, led by Ainia Technology Centre, together with the Technological Centre for Marine Research and Food (AZTI-Tecnalia) and the Center Inbiotec.
The project, which began in May 2010, is funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) through Profit programme of Technology Centers for Applied Scheduled Research of Experimental Development Projects (Profit).
With a budget of UR 1.5 million for two years of work, researchers will focus on the production of chocolate, sauces, soups, energy bars, fish products and snacks prepared with polysaccharides derived from microalgae.
Experts are devoted to performing effectiveness studies analyzing several genes related to the immune system of the zebrafish (Danio rerio).
Mercedes Villa-Carvajal, Inmugal coordinator and specialist in Ainia biomanufacturing, was in charge of presenting the results obtained in the first year of studies.
"One line of research worked on has been designed to select those potential microalgae for use in the project and to develop methods for cultivation and growth," she pointed out.
The researchers identified two genera of microalgae: Chlorella and Spirulina, for their potential of polysaccharides (chains of sugars), which can boost energy reserves, according to AZTI.
"Once we get positive results in these investigations, Inmugal will begin developing the first prototypes of food, in two basic lines of research," the scientist added.
The second researching line involves the testing of the incorporation of microalgae and/or prototype-derived bioactive compounds for aquaculture feed.
By Analia Murias