UK News

Scottish biotech aims to cure common cold

Scottish biotech company ScotBio has announced that it has seen “promising initial results” from its attempts to extract a cure for the common cold from algae.
The Livingston-based company is assessing how waste molecules from Spirulina, an alga often consumed as a superfood, could be used as a cure for the common cold, COVID-19 and various other viruses.
This research comes in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, Robert Gordon University and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC). The researchers are aiming to utilise the antiviral properties of the alga’s waste molecules.
Spirulina is currently used in the production of various other products including dietary supplements and food colourants. Separating the molecules of this substance into different chemical groups allows researchers to identify which molecules have more efficient antiviral properties to treat viruses such as COVID-19, the common cold or influenza.
Joe Palmer, ScotBio’s development manager, commented: “Working with the project consortium has enabled us to fractionate Spirulina into distinct chemical groups and then screen the extracts in a safe environment. Through that, we have identified compounds that could be particularly effective against a broad range of viruses from what was previously seen as waste. We can now work on recovering and purifying these molecules as high-value ingredients.”
“The next step for us is to better understand the market opportunities for these molecules and to fully resolve the relationship between molecule chemistry and their antiviral mechanisms,” Palmer continued. “Our aim is for this project to be a catalyst that will unlock a large and untapped market, helping in the fight against common viruses and future pandemics.”