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Eye disease: medicines made from algae?

Status: 05/10/2019 2:55 p.m. | archive
Do active ingredients from algae help with a special form of macular degeneration?

Algae are the oldest plants on earth and extremely adaptable to different environmental conditions. Like huge underwater rainforests, seaweed forms a diverse habitat. Around 13,000 different types of algae live in the world's oceans, including around 1,800 types of brown algae such as the sugar kelp Saccharina latissima. Algae play an important role in medical research: they may contain an active ingredient against a certain form of the widespread eye disease macular degeneration.

Algae active ingredient against macular degeneration?

So-called fucoidans are contained in brown algae. The medical effect of long-chain sugar molecules (polysaccharides) is currently being researched in connection with macular degeneration:

  • Some fucoidans from brown algae could do that VEGF growth factor inhibit, which causes blood vessels under the retina to grow abnormally in wet macular degeneration. These can burst and thereby damage visual cells. What fucoidans most effectively inhibit the growth factor is currently the subject of research.
  • Laboratory tests show that eye cells under the action of fucoidans oxidative stress survive better and even survive. Oxidative stress from light and UV rays is considered to be a major cause of macular degeneration. Researchers now hope that fucoidans could stop the development of wet macular degeneration at an early stage and prevent vision loss.

High demands in drug research

In order to make medicinal products from algae, the quality of the active ingredient must be constant. Researchers are currently investigating possible influences on the content of fucoidans in algae, for example

  • Extraction process
  • chemical structure
  • Time of harvest
  • Nutritional content
  • UV irradiation
  • Tidal range and swell of the sea

Cosmetics from the sea

The requirements for the production of cosmetics from algae are lower. For algae creams, skin oils and lotions, the harvest from the algae farm is washed, crushed and then fermented with yeast and bacteria. The algae extract obtained in this way contains all the concentrated active ingredients that ensure the survival of the algae in the sea.

The active ingredients protect against UV radiation or moisture loss, have an anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect. The algae can even have a positive effect on neurodermatitis or psoriasis.

Experts on the subject

Prof. Dr. Susanne Alban, director
Pharmaceutical Biology Department
Pharmaceutical Institute
Christian Albrechts University in Kiel
Gutenbergstrasse 76
24118 Kiel
Internet: www.pharmazie.uni-kiel.de/de

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. habil. Dipl. Biol. Alexa Karina Klettner, biologist
Head of the Laboratory for Experimental Retinology
Ophthalmology Clinic
University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel
Arnold-Heller-Strasse 3
24105 Kiel
Internet: www.uksh.de/augenklinik-kiel

Dr. rer. nat. Dipl. Biol. Inez Linke, marine biologist
oceanBASIS GmbH
Tiessenkai 12
24159 Kiel
Tel .: (0431) 36 45-881
Internet: www.oceanbasis.de

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Visit | 05/14/2019 | 8:15 pm