IPB University Researcher Takes Spirulina-Based Products to Another Level with Multiple Patented Inventions

At the Scientific Pre-Oration Press Conference held on May 19th, Prof Iriani Setyaningsih from IPB University’s Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science described the various benefits of microalgae for human consumption. Besides its rapid growth, microalgae are taking the spotlight due to its potential in sustainably adding value to various products. The market for algae-based products had reached $1547 in 2020 and is projected to increase by twofold in 2028. Industries which are benefiting from these microalgae include the food, pharmaceutical, beauty, and alternative bioenergy. Among many species, Spirulina and Chlorella have been recognized as food grade microalgae.

Prof Iriani described the many Spirulina-based products which have been produced by her team, among others are noodles, biscuits, jelly drinks, cookies, yoghurt, snack bars, and tablets. Some of these products have been patented, registered, and published. The research which goes into producing these products is part of a collaboration with IPB University’s Center for Coastal and Marine Resources Studies (CCMRS).

These microalgae have physiological effects which are beneficial for health and have shown positive impact on the treatment of non-degenerative and degenerative diseases. This makes it a potential material for the development of pharmaceutical products such as antimicrobial drugs. Several species of microalgae with this potential include the Chlorella vulgaris, Skeletonema costatum, Nitzschia closterium, Chaetoceros gracilis, and Spirulina platensis. Further example on its function in human physiology can be seen from its phycocyanin pigment, rough extract and alkaloid fraction of Spirulina platensis which works in inhibiting Plasmodium falciparum 3D7, the malaria virus as well as breast cancer cells, MCF-7 (more than 50%). This shows that the rough extract of Spirulina platensis has a potential to be developed as an anticancer solution which could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells while remaining safe towards normal cells.

The good news for diabetic patients is that the biomass and phycocyanin pigment of another microalga species, Spirulina fusiformis, has been shown to decrease the level of blood glucose in diabetic rats as an animal model.  Turning our attention to the beauty industry, Prof Iriani conveyed that her team has successfully created a spirulina and fish collagen face mask to inhibit pimple-causing bacteria. In collaboration with CCMRS, this innovation has been granted a certificate of patency. The innovation does not stop at face masks, as the team has also created a lip balm product using spirulina oil which has also been patented. On the bioenergy side, Chlamydomonas and Synechococcus sp. plays their role as sources of bioethanol which could be obtained through a glucose fermentation process. The exopolysaccharide from Porphyridium cruentum also has potential to produce bioethanol.

Despite the abundance of opportunities presented by the development of microalgae application for these industries, there remains a significant challenge which is the lack of microalgae industry itself in Indonesia. This industry would need to grow to facilitate the advancement of microalgae aside from the widely implemented spirulina for new functionality in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical aspects, as well as isolating single compounds from active ingredients with physiological functions to be processed as new alternatives of medical treatment.

Published Date : 19-May-2022

Resource Person : Prof Iriani Setyaningsih

Keyword : Spirulina, Microalgae, IPB University, Professor of IPB, anti-acne, anti-cancer