Scientists in Israel have separated a microalgal strain, which gives out large amounts of a polyunsaturated fatty acid that can impact blood pressure and cholesterol positively, therby cutting the risk for heart attacks.
A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), headed by Prof. Zvi HaCohen, is studying an algal mutant that is capable of accumulating up to 15 percent (of dry weight) of a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) called DGLA (Dihomo-?-Linolenic Acid).
The new strain, IKG-1, is a freshwater microalga that the researchers believe is the only known plant source capable of producing such significant amounts of DGLA.
"Omega-6 PUFA are necessary as components of brain cell membranes and have various nutritional uses. DGLA is one of these PUFA, but appears in nature only as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of other compounds and does not accumulate to any appreciable concentration. There is no natural source for DGLA and although its beneficial effects are well known, very few clinical studies have been conducted," said HaCohen.