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Hollings Lab and Algaeventure Systems: Looking for Benefits in Harmful Algal Blooms

Author: Derek Parks | Dublin, Ohio (July 29, 2015) - The NOAA Ocean Service Hollings Marine Laboratory Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), with Algaeventure Systems (dba Biosortia Pharmaceuticals), which was originally signed in 2012 and recently amended in 2014, has resulted in a wide array of successful outcomes for NOAA, and for its CRADA partners. Under the CRADA, NOAA is working with academia, industry and government entities that wish to screen toxic substances present in algal blooms for use pharmaceuticals and other commercial applications, while also producing mission-based data products for water quality managers and homeland security applications.

"The technology that Algaeventure Systems (AVS) brings to bloom analysis is incredible,” says Dr. Peter Moeller, the PI on the CRADA at NOAA’s Hollings facility. “It has and will continue change the way we assess blooms and their secondary metabolites (i.e. toxins and other bioactive molecules). The really cool part of this program is that many of the organisms we assess are non-culturable in the lab, yet produce highly toxic compounds. AVS/Biosortia is tapping into a huge, completely novel source of natural products."

According to Moeller, NOAA has "submitted over 4,600 discrete biologically active extracts or purified fractions to our partners for testing and commercial development. We already have one patent (euglenophycin) based on this work, which is a compound being tested to capitalize on its angiogenic properties (e.g. to treat leukemia)."

In support of NOAA’s mission, the research generates analytical detection method(s) for each toxin/metabolite of interest. The method/data can then readily be incorporated into any water quality platform to aid managers and decision makers. The research has also led to rapid toxin ID methods which can be used in combating bioterrorism. These methods include mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR).

"We currently have both national and international requests for toxin standards, an area we are just beginning to look into," says Moeller. "The CRADA allows us to freely access tons of microbial biomass within hours/days – biomass on a scale unattainable prior to Algaeventure Systems developing their harvesting technology. This has obviated the need for historical time consuming and expensive mass culture. It also allows us to assess the microbial consortia in a given bloom rather than a single selected organism. This is very important as all blooms are a mixture of microbes (algae, fungi, bacteria) that play off each other, generating secondary metabolites that could potentially be used as chemical warfare agents. These metabolites are frequently toxic to mammals, so they are of great concern to water quality managers."


About Biosortia Pharmaceuticals - Biosortia has a proven and unique ability to obtain unculturable aquatic microbial consortia from the natural environment in unprecedented quantities allowing its research team to discover a diverse array of new natural products. Biosortia is actively engaging pharmaceutical research and development organizations to explore the huge opportunity of exploring aquatic microbial consortia for potential therapeutic agents.

About JLABS - The Biosortia Pharmaceutical operations are located at JLABS at San Diego (JLABS @SD). JLABS is a 40,000 square-foot life science innovation center, located in San Diego. The labs provide a flexible environment for start-up companies pursuing new technologies and research platforms to advance medical care. Through a "no strings attached" model, JJI does not take an equity stake in the companies occupying JLABS and the companies are free to develop products - either on their own, or by initiating a separate external partnership with JJI or any other company.

If you'd like more information about the announcement or Biosortia, please contact Chad Hummell of Biosortia at 614-203- 8040 or chummell@biosortia.com.

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