Portfolio Companies

Solixant

The search for new natural antibiotics from micro-algae and cyanobacteria

Shareholders in Portfolio Company 

Industry Sector 
Innovative Nanobiopharmaceutics

Production Location 
Moscow

Investment Started:  2012

The search for and development of new generation antibiotics using biomass from micro-organisms found in nature, with the help of mass screening using i-Chip technology. The production of high-quality multi-functional additives for aquaculture fish feed, with enhanced levels of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and carotenoids derived from micro-algae.

The Russian sub-division is a 100%-owned subsidiary of the American biotech company Solix Algredients, a portfolio company belonging to the I2BF-RNC Resources Fund, in which RUSNANO is an investor.

Solix Algredients has contracted to invest $5 million in its Russian sub-division.

The goal of the project is to study a wide variety of micro-algae and cyanobacteria with a view to using them to produce commercially viable new-generation antibiotics. For mass screening of the micro-organisms producing the new antibiotics, Solix BioSystems is using the iChip technology, which has been adapted for use with phototrophic micro-organisms. Then the company will take the micro-organisms that are most effective at producing antibiotics, and use its photobioreactors to determine whether they can be cultured on an industrial scale. The project’s approach to searching for new micro-organisms capable of producing antibiotics includes the use of iChip technology, which has already played a role in the discovery of the first new type of antibiotic in 30 years, made using micro-organisms found in the earth. The project will also use Solix BioSystems’ own collections of phototrophic micro-organisms, and will have access to the depositaries of leading Russian research institutes, and it will make use of the advanced technologies of Solix BioSystems Inc. to grow micro-algae biomass at both laboratory and semi-industrial scales.

Solixant owns a wide collection of highly productive strains of micro-algae and is the only Russian company capable of producing 100% natural high-quality bio-additives for aquaculture fish feed, based on Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants derived from micro-algae. This is due to the fact that the company has the largest capacity in the country for the culturing of micro-algae in new-generation photobioreactors. The company’s products are made from 100% natural materials, micro-algae, without the use of solvents, and contain no GM ingredients or artificial additives, thereby guaranteeing that they are safe and pose no threat to the environment. Thanks to its qualities the product has a wide range of uses in aquaculture and aviculture and in the health food and dietary supplement industries.

The aim of the project is to create a complex multi-functional additive for fish feed, containing the following elements:

  • Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • antioxidants
  • a balanced range of highly nutritious proteins
  • natural antimicrobial substances.

Areas of Application

  • Pharmacology
  • Aquaculture, Aviculture, the manufacture of health foods

Market

  • Pharmacological companies
  • Aquaculture and Aviculture farms, manufacturers of health foods

Competitive Advantages

  • The use of iChip, an innovative modified mass screening technology, which makes it possible to carry out mass screening and do research into micro-organisms that cannot be cultured in laboratories using any other methods.
  • The availability of a large collection of extremely promising micro-organisms, as well as access to strains in the collections of leading Russian research institutes. The possibility of organising expeditions to find as-yet unstudied natural micro-organisms.
  • The fact that Solix BioSystems Vostok has the largest capacity in Russia for the culturing of micro-organisms.
  • The increase of levels of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and carotenoids in the end product (i.e. fish for human consumption), thus increasing its value for consumers.
  • The increase of animals’ resistance to infection due to the natural anti-microbial compounds present in the feed, which means that it can be used for both treatment and prevention of disease.
  • The extension of the feed’s shelf-life, making it more convenient to transport.
  • The new multi-functional additives will replace a wide range of additives that are currently in use.
  • The new additives comply with stricter environmental standards, as absolutely no animal proteins, solvents or GM ingredients are used in their manufacture.

Solix BioSystems East has developed and produced a specially adapted version of iChip for use in the culturing of a wide range of phototrophic micro-organisms. The existing version of iChip was created for non-phototrophic micro-organisms, and our version of the technology can be used for the culturing of both photosynthesising (micro-algae) and non-photosynthesising micro-organisms. This approach is highly innovative, with many new elements, and has never before been used in micro-algae extraction. In addition, the results obtained by American researchers and the discovery of the new antibiotic Teixobactin demonstrate how promising this method is. The use of the iChip technology makes it possible to separate thousands of new bacterial isolates, and the range of strains studied will not be limited to those which are already contained in the Company’s collection, or those of specialist research institutes The next stage will involve testing the cultures and isolates obtained in the previous stages, and the development of technologies to test their antibiotic activities in cell extracts and cell suspensions. Antibiotics will be identified by means of mass spectroscopy. This method allows us to analyse the elements in a mixture at a later stage of division with a high degree of accuracy. The most promising strains will be selected for semi-industrial culturing in advanced Lumian AGS260 photobioreactors, which allow the culturing of 4 different micro-organisms in different conditions at the same time, thus maximising productivity while keeping costs to a minimum and avoiding the risk of contamination of the cultures.

The key advantages of the core technology used by Solixant are:

  • The availability of a large collection of extremely promising micro-algae, as well as access to strains in the collections of leading Russian research institutes and the possibility of organising expeditions to find new strains,
  • the existence of a complete technological cycle, and the only equipment in Russia for analysing, growing and processing biomass on a semi-industrial scale.

The first stage will be the selection of promising strains that may produce carotenoids, Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and antimicrobial substances, as well as strains with a biomass that is rich in protein. The Company owns a wide collection of micro-algae, and also has access to the strain collections of leading Russian research institutes. The Company is also able to conduct regular expeditions to natural sources around the world, in order to collect and extract wild strains of micro-algae that have never previously been studied.

The most promising strains will be selected for semi-industrial culturing in advanced Lumian AGS260 and AGS4000 photobioreactors, which allow the culturing of 4 different micro-organisms in different conditions at the same time, thus maximising productivity while keeping costs to a minimum and avoiding the risk of contamination of the cultures. Once a large amount of biomass has been obtained and processed to create sufficient amounts of experimental material, the various components of the resulting additives will, in accordance with the Company’s own methodology, be tested on living organisms (whitebait and krill) to determine the optimal composition of the additives, This research will be carried out over several generations of living organisms in order to determine the effect of the additives in all stages of their life cycle.