Byotrol reached a significant milestone in its seaweed research and development project today, having received approval for a patent application in the United Kingdom. The project began in 2014 and aims to identify and exploit the commercial potential of an enhanced seaweed extract as an antiviral.
Investment and funding to accelerate progress
Central to Byotrol’s progress thus far is the funding received from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK.
These grants allowed Byotrol to partner with world leaders in virology, analytical chemistry, and algal processing which has accelerated the product development timeline. The Innovate UK grant also allowed Byotrol to invest in a purpose-built virology laboratory at its head office at Thornton Science Park, a University of Chester campus.
The grant of the patent application gives Byotrol valuable intellectual property to support the development of commercial relationships.
Selection of active substances
The project began with the investigation of seaweed extracts for potential antimicrobial properties, starting first with antibacterial screening before discovering the remarkable antiviral properties of select species of algae native to the UK.
Byotrol’s technical team identified the active compound in the extract from seaweed fractions, through hundreds of experiments conducted by internal and external laboratories.
Determining the mode of action through collaboration
The in vitro mode of action has been identified, through academic collaboration with Professor James Stewart at the University of Liverpool, and the sponsorship of a doctoral student to explore and identify the extract’s mode of action, bringing academic expertise and access to essential equipment including electron microscopy which has illustrated the interaction of the extract with viruses.
From mode of action studies to product prototypes
Having ascertained the mode of action Byotrol has developed a number of product prototypes and tested their effects on medically relevant respiratory viruses, such as Coronavirus, Influenza, and Adenovirus. The enriched extract has demonstrated efficacy against a wide range of viruses at incredibly low dosage levels, which suggests they are more effective than current technologies on the market.
Generation of active substance at scale
As an entirely new raw material, this extract does not have an established supply chain. To realise the commercial potential of the discovery, it is vital that Byotrol can demonstrate to potential partners that the extract can be sourced and produced at scale.
Byotrol has invested in pilot-scale extraction equipment in-house and built relationships with suitable contract manufacturers who have the capability to produce enriched extracts at several scales and levels of certification.
Finished product applications
In the UK and Europe, seaweed extracts are not approved active materials for biocidal products, Byotrol’s established area of expertise.
Byotrol has explored alternative applications and has concluded that the enriched extracts are best suited to inclusion in over-the-counter (OTC) products, for example, the prophylactic treatment of viral conditions such as colds, flu, coronaviruses, and cold sores.
The enriched extract is currently being tested by potential partners in numerous product formats with further opportunities for the development of antiviral products for humans, animals, and agricultural applications.
Interested parties who require further information and samples of the extract are advised to contact Samuel Wright, Technology Manager for Byotrol’s Naturals program.