Seaweed: pharmaceutical potential from ocean to medicine – A group of Portuguese researchers is opening up new perspectives in the field of biomedicine by exploring the countless possibilities offered by compounds derived from seaweed. A recent study conducted by the University of Coimbra and the University of Aveiro in Portugal, just published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, sheds light on the crucial role these nutrients can play in the discovery of innovative drugs and the development of cutting-edge products.
The in-depth research traces the path that transforms a seaweed extract into a potent medicinal agent, ready to be introduced to the market. The researchers, led by João Cotas of the University of Coimbra, point out that, despite progress, several challenges need to be overcome before compounds derived from seaweed can become commercially approved drugs.
Seaweeds, rich in vitamins, minerals, polysaccharides and polyphenols, offer a wide range of biological activities, making their bioactive compounds promising candidates for new drugs and medical applications. The study outlines insights into the development of formulation strategies and delivery systems to improve the bioavailability and stability of these compounds.
Addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating seaweed-based nutrients into the pharmaceutical and fish industries, the study emphasises the need for a universal approach in utilising and developing the pharmaceutical potential of seaweed.
The authors advise companies interested in investing in the seaweed economy to adopt biologically-based management, encouraging the use of environmentally friendly techniques in seaweed harvesting and processing. They emphasise the importance of supporting growers with scientific advisors to maximise yields through training and the adoption of state-of-the-art equipment.
Despite some difficulties in the integration and commercialisation of seaweed as food or pharmaceutical products, research shows that there is a promising path to fully exploit the medicinal potential of these extraordinary marine resources.
Study author Dr Leonel Pereira points out that the paper reflects the team’s critical thinking about the real potential of algae in the pharmaceutical industry, highlighting the complex process of developing and commercialising seaweed compounds. The research represents a fundamental step towards sustainable and innovative solutions in the pharmaceutical and fish sectors, bridging the gap between marine biology, pharmacology, biotechnology and product formulation.
Seaweed: pharmaceutical potential from ocean to medicine