That’s why InterMed Discovery GmbH (IMD) of Dortmund, Germany, recently announced that it had acquired unique microbial omega 3 fatty acid production strains and related know-how from the University of Saarland, with the intent to produce omega 3 more sustainably and reliably compared to established sources.
The concentrations and ratios of EPA and DHA are directly related to the utility of omega 3 in different therapeutic settings. At present, omega 3 fatty acids, particularly those with high levels of EPA, are derived from fish. However, according to IMD, the dwindling fish populations coupled with unreliable concentrations can exhibit significant batch variations. The problem is similar with algae, which generate mainly DHA while the yields for EPA are very low or even none at all.
The microbial strains that IMD acquired are sustainable sources that generate reliably high yields of omega 3 fatty acids, which “significantly out-perform current sources.” The project is based on the discovery of new wild-type myxobacterial strains, which already produce DHA and EPA in “substantial and highly competitive quantities” for which patent protection has already been filed. Working in concert with Professor Frank Müller of the University of Saarlandes, IMD is currently focusing on the integrated development of the strains into an optimized EPA/DHA production process.
“These microbial strains offer not only a new sustainable and reliable source of omega 3, but also give us the capability to develop products with outstanding quality at competitive pricing,” said Bernard Becker, managing director of InterMed Discovery. “This new microbial source, in conjunction with our world-class technology platform, gives us the leading edge in this competitive market and further enhances the reputation of our functional ingredients business.”
IMD will lead the collaborative research and development project with the team at the University of Saarland. Although the financial terms were not disclosed, the company is eager to add a new layer to the lucrative market for omega 3 products—which it said is to be presently worth about $2 billion and is projected to reach about $7 billion by 2011.
InterMed Discovery is a natural product lead-discovery company that was founded in 2006 as a management buyout of the Natural Products Research Unit of Bayer Healthcare that enjoys strategic partnerships with companies such as Cognis GmbH and Biotropics Malaysia Berhad. It generates proprietary product pipelines of early stage pharmaceuticals and functional ingredients and also supports partners in research and lead generation. The company’s biologically characterized product leads are identified using IMD Bioprofiling and NPSilico, which together comprise a proprietary bioinformatics platform drawing on screening results compiled over many years, complemented by primary biological and chemical research on natural products.