Dr De Cerqueira is an honorary researcher in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Image: Dr Gustavo De Cerqueira
An Australian omega-3 supplement made from environmental bacteria is being developed by a University of Sydney research affiliate in a collaboration between academia and industry, creating a sustainable source of functional omega-3s that alleviates the impact of overfishing.
Omega-3s are a popular supplement with a four percent market growth annually. They consist of fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Most often derived from cod, omega-3 supplements are recommended to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis.
The growing demand for omega-3s is currently fulfilled by increased fishing activities, resulting in over 100 million tonnes of fish caught for this purpose per annum globally.
Unlike most other omega-3 supplements on the market, BiomeMega does not derive its fatty acids from fish. Instead, it uses advanced precision fermentation to elaborate omega-3 oils composed of wild bacterial extracts, some of which were discovered in Australian soil and waters before laboratory domestication.
BiomeMega CEO Dr Gustavo De Cerqueira, who is conducting research for the supplement while a resident member at the Sydney Knowledge Hub said: “While demand for omega-3 supplements is ever-increasing, fish are disappearing from our oceans.”
“While oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, so too are marine and soil bacteria, however generating extracts containing these acids has long been a major goal,” Dr De Cerqueira said.