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Phycobiliproteins as a commodity: trends in applied research, patents and commercialization

Sekar, Soundarapandian, Chandramohan, Muruganandham
Journal of applied phycology 2008 v.20 no.2 pp. 113-136
Rhodophyta, commercialization, databases, dyes, fluorescence, patents, phycobiliprotein, Europe, Japan, United States
Phycobiliproteins are a group of colored proteins commonly present in cyanobacteria and red algae possessing a spectrum of applications. They are extensively commercialized for fluorescent applications in clinical and immunological analysis. They are also used as a colorant, and their therapeutic value has also been categorically demonstrated. However, a comprehensive knowledge and technological base for augmenting their commercial utilities is lacking. Hence, this work is focused towards this objective by means of analyzing global patents and commercial activities with application oriented research. Strategic mining of patents was performed from global patent databases resulting in the identification of 297 patents on phycobiliproteins. The majority of the patents are from USA, Japan and Europe. Patents are grouped into fluorescent applications, general applications and production aspects of phycobiliproteins and the features of each group are discussed. Commercial and applied research activities are compared in parallel. It revealed that US patents are mostly related to fluorescent applications while Japanese are on the production, purification and application for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. Fluorescent applications are well represented in research, patents and commercial sectors. Biomedical properties documented in research and patents are not ventured commercially. Several novel applications are reported only in patents. The paper further pinpoints the plethora of techniques used for cell breakage and for extraction and purification of phycobiliproteins. The analysis identifies the lacuna and suggests means for improvements in the application and production of phycobiliproteins.