In Portugal, researchers at the University of Coimbra are looking at algae not for biofuel or food, but for the medical world. As one of 15 international partners in the NoMorFilm – Novel Marine Derived Biomolecules and Industrial Biomaterial project, Coimbra is focused on growing and using algae in thousands of test tubes to fight infections in medical prostheses and implants. A big issue with many implants is the infections that come along with them or rejection of the implants, but using drugs made from microalgae can help combat the bacteria that causes those infections.
Their research gives promising news as many algae they tested have produced valuable molecules for the antibacterial medical uses, and they may have even discovered a new molecule in one of their algae. It might be a while before we see algae used in a biofilm on prostheses or implants, however, as new drugs take a long time to get to market. The project is costing around €8 million (almost $9.5 million) and includes the University of Porto.