Israeli Medical Scientists Discover Heart-Saving Algae

Published: June 3rd 2010
in News » World


Israeli researchers and scientists from Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva (BGU) have recently discovered a strain of micro-algae that, according to research, has enough polyunsaturated fatty acid to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, chronic inflammation and potentially reduce the risk of heart attacks.


The scientists are part of the university’s Jacob Blaustein Institute of Desert Research (BIDR).


The microscopic algae mutant, recently discovered to possess these healing powers, is found in freshwater. Researchers have found that the algae are capable of accumulating up to 15 percent of a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) called Dihomo-γ-Linolenic Acid or DGLA for short.


According to research, the algae is the only known plant source capable of absorbing and producing the acid responsible for the production of good circulation in red blood cells. The plant also possesses high density lipoproteins (HDL), which transport cholesterol away from blood tissue and through the liver, in order for it to be put to use.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids, like those from the omega family, are not naturally produced by the body on its own.


Professor Zvi HaCohen, leader of the BIDR’s research team, described the necessity of omega fatty acids, saying “Omega-6 PUFA are necessary as components of brain cell membranes and have various nutritional uses."


He continued to describe the acid produced by the algae mutant currently being researched (DGLA), and explained that though the acid has no natural source for its production, its benefits are well known.


"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,” he said. “There is no natural source for DGLA, and although its beneficial effects are well known, very few clinical studies have been conducted."


This recent discovery was announced by Mr. Gary Fine, National President of the Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University, in a press release onThursday.


BGU scientists believe that the algae mutant being studied has properties that could be highly beneficial in the treatments of a range of heart-related diseases.


According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Almost 40 percent of Canadian adults are classified as having high blood cholesterol levels. It is also estimated that as many as 10 million Canadian adults have a cholesterol level higher than the recommended target range.


With this medical breakthrough, it is possible that the algae could potentially be used to treat those dealing with these medical concerns, which frequently lead to loss of life.


Scientists also believe that sufferers of other diseases, like multiple sclerosis and arteriosclerosis, can potentially benefit from this medical breakthrough in Israel scientific research, as well.

Related articles: (Algae, Israeli scientists, Ben Gurion University, heart condition)
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