Screening of metabolites

The rich biodiversity exhibited by microalgae constitutes a vital reservoir of molecules - proteic, glucidic, and lipidic - but also includes small-sized, metabolites of strong biological activity. These compounds are all promising in the context of new market opportunities, or as alternatives to resources that are already being exploited. This kind of bio-prospection requires know-how in setting up cultures, across a range of volumes, of different strains of microalgae belonging to the 13 branches of known photosynthetic micro-organisms. The screening process itself depends on optimized extraction of the metabolites sought, plus measurements of biological activity as provided by scientific partners such as the CNRS-Université de La Rochelle, and the CHU Läennec - Nantes.

HPLC In the field of marine pharmacognosy, PBA has developed a series of methodologies for screening microalgae species and molecules, notably using a dereplication tool (CHLP/UV-DAD) dedicated to pigment analysis. This particular method is adept at drawing up pigment profiles specific to each group of species and to their physiological state, but is useful above all for detecting the presence of original pigments. This laboratory research aims to study one area of microalgae metabolomics by processing imprint data in a similar manner to the methods recently developed in proteomics and transcriptomics.
The PHOTOMER project is funded by the ANR, the Pays-de-la-Loire region, the Cancéropôle Grand Ouest and the French anti-cancer League, and aims to find pigments or ‘photosensibilisers’ derived from microalgae with a view to their being used in photodynamic cancer treatments (PDT). In the framework of this project, a partnership between the PBA laboratory and the Laser department of the CHU Läennec - Nantes has enabled isolation of several extracts. The performances of these extracts under laboratory conditions are 10-30 times higher than those of the best molecule currently on the market.