MIGAL Galilee Research Institute Receives EUR 7.5M EU HORIZON 2020 Grant to Develop Algae-Based Pharmaceutical Solutions & Functional Foods

·4 min read

Grant to support MIGAL's groundbreaking research into treatments for Colitis and Crohn's Disease led by Dr. Dorit Avni

QIRYAT SHMONA, Israel, Feb. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The MIGAL Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL) a regional mega-R&D center supported by Israel's Ministry of Science and Technology, today announced that ALGEA4IBD, a project initiated, led and coordinated by Dr. Dorit Avni, the group leader of MIGAL's Bioactive Metabolites and Immune Modulation Laboratory, has been awarded a prestigious EU (European Union) HORIZON 2020 R&D grant in the amount of EUR 7.5 million.

The aim of the grant is to promote a breakthrough in the development of natural ingredients from algae, leveraging their unique capabilities to develop novel treatments for inflammatory diseases with no existing cures, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD); Colitis and Crohn's Disease.

Taking part in the project are twenty-one leaders from Israel and European research academies, medical institutes and food institutes, as well as professionals from international pharma, food supplement and algae companies, each of whom will lead research initiatives that will be supported by the EU grant.

The Algea4IBD project takes a unique approach towards achieving three major goals: (i) developing medical solutions for chronic inflammatory diseases besides IBD; (ii) promoting aquaculture in line with the EU "green deal" approach; and (iii) promoting healthier lifestyle via increased nutritional awareness.

HORIZON 2020 is the financial instrument implementing Innovation Union, an EU Europe 2020 initiative. By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 invests in programs that tackle societal challenges through the promotion of scientific and industrial excellence, leadership and partnerships, removing innovation-blocking barriers to cooperation between the public and private sectors. The largest platform of its kind, HORIZON 2020's total budget is approximately EUR 77 million.

Dr. Dorit Avni, commented, "This grant will enable us to carry out breakthrough research that will hopefully bring forth innovative new therapies for diseases that currently lack effective treatment – diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries. We look forward to fruitful cooperation with all of the project partners, as well as with MIGAL's Laboratory of Natural Materials and Analytic Chemistry, led by Prof. Soliman Khatib."

Shai-Lee Spigelman, the Director General of Israel's Ministry of Science and Technology, added, "Warm congratulations to Dr. Dorit Avni, her research team and the MIGAL Research Institute as a whole. This award is an impressive achievement that few achieve, with international recognition confirming the importance of this innovative project aimed at transforming algae into sorely needed treatments for inflammatory related diseases. The Ministry of Science and Technology is proud to support applied research activities such as these that take place outside of Israel's center - especially via regional centers whose expanding ecosystems bring such important benefits to their local communities as well as to broader population."

About macro algae (seaweeds) and microalgae: research into the use of different types of macroalgae and microalgae for medical, cosmetic and nutritional applications is a growing field that is currently at the initial stage of development. Though it is well known that algae are rich sources of protein, vitamins, anti-inflammatory and other beneficial substances, only 10-15 of the tens of thousands of algae's known strains, including Chlorella, Spirulina, Ulva and several others, have been confirmed for bio-effectiveness and commercial use.

About MIGAL's Bioactive Metabolites and Immune Modulation Laboratory: MIGAL's Bioactive Metabolites and Immune Modulation Laboratory researches promising natural substances, such as algae, fungi, quinoa and others, to determine their effect on chronic inflammation and the immune system, to characterize their unique biomaterial, and to determine their suitability as a source for pro-immune components such as sphingolipids. In addition, the lab is currently engaged in research to explore the potential of Algae for mitigating cytokine storms, a reaction which has been related to the severity of COVID-19.

About MIGAL Galilee Research Institute

MIGAL Galilee Research Institute Ltd is a regional R&D mega center of the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry owned by the Galilee Development Company Ltd. An internationally-recognized multi-disciplinary applied research institute, MIGAL specializes in biotechnology and computer sciences, plant science, precision agriculture and environmental sciences, and food, nutrition and health. Recognized as a powerhouse of applied research, for forty years MIGAL has cooperated closely with industry leaders, innovative startups, and technological accelerators. MIGALs' employees include 90 PhDs and 190 researchers distributed across 44 research groups, operating as an innovative research ecosystem that encourages collaboration across scientific, industrial, agricultural, academic and technological specialties.

For more information, please contact: Yael Shavit PR– tksh1@tikshorot.co.il