AlgaeCan’s first product is Astaxanthin, the most powerful natural antioxidant produced in nature. Clinical studies have shown that the antioxidant power of Astaxanthin is 6,000 times stronger than Vitamin C, 550 times more effective than Vitamin E, and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene.
AlgaeCan’s unique process is also capable of efficiently producing other algae-derived products which have value as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biochemicals and animal feed. Its unique photobioreactors (PBR) allow the Company to consistently produce a higher yielding product than competing products obtained from open pond systems.
Astaxanthin is a powerful naturally-occurring antioxidant which neutralizes damaging free radicals. Excessive amounts of free radicals can lead to cell injury and death, which may contribute to many diseases such as cancer, stroke, myocardial infarction, diabetes and other major disorders. Free radicals may also be involved in Parkinson’s disease, deafness, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s. It is also believed that free radicals underlie the aging process.
The highest concentrations of Astaxanthin to be found in nature are found in a freshwater algae, Haematococcus pluvialis,
(H pluvialis), which is notoriously difficult to culture. This algae ubiquitous in nature and is an important source of food for many crustaceans. The Astaxanthin is responsible for the pink-red colouration of the flesh of salmonoids as well as shrimp, lobsters, crayfish and flamingoes.
Haematococcus pluvialis is a simple algae with a complex lifecycle.
This species is well known for its high content of the strong antioxidant astaxanthin, which is an important ingredient for aquaculture, nutraceuticals and cosmetics.
Maximal astaxanthin accumulation occurs when the environmental conditions become unfavorable for normal cell growth.
Understanding its habit in culture is critical to successful cultivation.
Commercial Astaxanthin is currently produced in open ponds, tubular reactors and closed PBR. Open pond systems are exposed to varying light conditions, seasonal weather variations and outdoor contamination. The output from open pond systems is unpredictable. PBR provide the most controlled conditions throughout the various process phases and produces a more uniform product and higher yield. Astaxanthin production is not easy, is capital intensive, requiring multiple phases of controlled growth which is relatively simple to achieve in small vessels but is extremely difficult to achieve at a commercial scale in several thousand liters of water. It requires unique environmental conditions and advanced technology solutions. The microalgae grow slowly in a very neutral environment – essentially fresh water with a small amounts of nutrients added, and are highly susceptible to contamination. The microalgae produce relatively low yields of Astaxanthin and the extraction process is complex.
To resolve these production problems, AlgaeCan has designed, developed and built scalable PBR that deliver high yields and high quality Astaxanthin from H. pluvialis and has developed expertise in safe handling, Good Manufacturing Practice (“cGMPs”) and Good Lab Practices (“cGLPs”), quality control measures that limit contamination and assure safe production of natural health product ingredients suitable for human and animal consumption. AlgaeCan’s core expertise is its proprietary PBR closed system and artificial light sources, and its growing and stressing protocols that optimize biomass yields and bioactive concentrations. Its technology is cost effective, commercially scalable and ensures the delivery of a repeatable quality nutraceutical product and a reliable supply chain.
Research and Development is a continuing process in all successful biotechnology companies.
R&D will focus on optimizing several production parameters to increase our yield of astaxanthin per unit input.
AlgaeCan also intends to broaden its research effort toward:
AlgaeCan was founded by James Irwin & Shane Lander in 2009. Prior to 2009 James was active in Research and Development of algae-based biofuels and Shane was active in technology development in energy efficient systems.
The experience gained from the algae-to-biofuels work was a great introduction into the disciplines required for the production of nutraceuticals from microalgae. Astaxanthin production requires multiple phases of production along with a strong focus on energy efficiencies and technology blending.
Leading-edge lighting technologies coupled with the robust liquid handling protocols from the beverage and food industry have simplified the process of scale up.
Their accumulated understanding of the physiology of the microorganism has enabled the generation of a precisely tuned production model.
National Research Council of Canada provided financial and technical support through much of the R&D Phase.