Gateway for:

Member Countries

Selenium-Containing Biomass for Food Supplement


Development of Biotechnology of Production Selenium-Containing Biomass of Spirulina platensis as a Substance for Food Supplement and Pharmaceuticals

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-IND/Industrial Biotechnology/Biotechnology
  • BIO-CHM/Biochemistry/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Tbilisi State University / Institute of Physics (Ge), Georgia, Tbilisi


  • Università di Roma "La Sapienza" / Dipartimento di Chimica, Italy, Rome\nDalhousie University / Department of Chemistry, Canada, NS, Halifax

Project summary

The trace element selenium (Se) is an essential nutrient of fundamental importance to human health. In recent years it assumed the name of "the element of the century". As selenocysteine, the 21st amino acid, selenium is a component of selenoproteins, some of which have important enzymatic functions. About 35 selenoproteins take part in various processes going in organism. Selenium behaves both as an antioxidant and antiinflammatory agent. It is assumed that the antioxidant properties of Se namely determine its antitumoral effect, correction of endocrine and stimulation of immune systems, as well as inhibition of viral activity, AIDS virus included. Promoting binding of toxic elements (As, Cd, Hg, Bi etc.) with high-molecular blood proteins and their removal from the organism, selenium complexes implement organism detoxification.

Selenium enters the food chain through plants, which take it up from the soil. Selenium deficiency has therefore been identified in parts of the world notable for their low soil content of selenium, such as volcanic regions. Selenium deficiency has been observed in China, in many parts of Europe, Russia, the USA, New Zealand and other countries. Selenium deficiency leads to advent of endemic diseases (Keshan's disease/cardiomyopathy/, Kashin-Beck's disease/muscular dystrophy/etc.). The addition of selenium to diet in particular doses decreases the risk of these hazards.

It is characteristic of selenium to have small interval of therapeutic permissible doses, the maximum safe dietary intake may be as low as 600 g per day. A high level of selenium causes toxicosis. In addition it should be noted that not all of the selenium compounds are assimilated equally well by organism. Only being biotransformed, incorporated in biomacromolecules, selenium has antioxidant activity and efficiently affects organism functioning.

In the present work the blue-green micro-alga Spirulina platensis (S.platensis) is proposed as a matrix for production of selenium-containing biomass as a substance for food supplements and pharmaceuticals. One of modern trends in biotechnology is associated with S.platensis that is caused by technological advantages of algae cultivation and composition of bioactive substances comprised. S.platensis is a source of proteins (60-70%), minerals, vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids of high biological value. It is held to work profitably as an immunopotentiator and is characterized by the anticancer and antiviral effects. Being a living organism, algae is able to accumulate the required element in the process of cultivation and incorporate it into biocomplexes in strictly defined amounts correspondent to its concentration in the nutrient.

It should be noted that presently known fabrication technologies of Se-containing S. platensis preparations are based either on receiving mechanical mixture (e.g. S. platensis powder and selenitic(al) sodium (Na2SeO3) or mixture of S. platensis powder and selenium-containing autolyzed yeast or upon S. platensis cultivation at selenium concentrations in the nutrient so high that algae cells are growing under conditions of survival struggle and as a result die partly.

Purpose: The overall project goal is to develop the production biotechnology (operations in a step-by-step fashion) of selenium-containing S.platensis biomass and normative regulations for its standardization.

Objectives: The specific objectives of project are:

  • development of the production technology of Se-containing S.platensis preparation with precise introduction of Se doses, corresponding to the zone of optimal physiological response of human organism and with preservation of benefetial natural properties of microalgae (nativity, protein content, element composition etc,);
  • development of normative regulations for the production of Se-containing substance and of technique of its standardization.

The project scope of research activities will include design, engineering and testing of special experimental bioreactor, that will adjust standardization of cultivation technology of selenium-containing S.platensis biomass up to level necessary for serial production of pharmaceuticals. Activities on bioreactor engineering and development of production biotechnology of Se-S.platensis substance will be performed in the Andronikashvili Institute of Physics of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (Tbilisi, Georgia). Control of biomass quality, protein composition and also examination of antioxydant defense system of Se-S. platensis complex will be carried out by spectrophotometrical methods, capillary electrophoresis, ESR, besides conventional methods of bacterial physiology and biochemistry testing will be applied. The element composition of S.platensis biomass as well as Se content in Se- S.platensis substance will be determined by atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and neutron activation analysis (NAA) methods.

The senior members of team enjoy high international reputation having well recognized research contributions. The scientific team has great experience in studies of heavy metals interaction with algae and bacteria. The project participants are in very good collaboration with leading researchers in this field. Their research was supported by ISTC (G -342, G-348, G-349, G-408, G-389).

Thus, the competence and expertise of team members guarantee the successful implementation of the proposed project.

Preliminary study: The prerequisite for successful accomplishment of the proposed project is the study of heavy metals accumulation in S.platensis cells, which was carried out in the framework of ISTC Project G-408 in 2001-2004.

Foreign collaborators:

Foreign collaborators will take part in testing and evaluation of technologies developed in the course of the project; in crosschecks of results in the course of project implementation; in the joint scientific meetings and seminars; in the discussions and joint publications of the research results.

Significance: On the basis of obtained results the commercial production of selenium-containing biomass of S. platensis can be realized. The obtained results have two unique features:

  • S.platensis biomass with Se(II) ions incorporated into native biostructures is characterized by easy assimilation that differs favorably from inorganic compounds of this element.
  • The proposed technology offers possibility to dose purposefully Se content in the cultivated biomass

The project allows the participants skilled in the field of nuclear weapon production to be engaged only in peaceful activity. The proposed project completely meets ISTC goals: to support basic and applied research, aimed, in general, at green labeled products production.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

Promotional Material

Значимы проект

See ISTC's new Promotional video view