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Cracking of glucomannan for nutritional and pharmaceutical applications

Development of applications for glucomannan polysaccharides and oligosaccharides derived from konjac plants which give substantial health benefits. In particular, prebiotic properties are addressed extensively.

Konjac flour has long been used as a bulking agent in food and healthcare products. The participants have preliminary evidence that purified derivatives of the flour have unique properties which would allow them to pass un-degraded through the gastrointestinal tract as far as the colon. Bacteria in the colon should then be able to digest the Konjac derivatives. This would give the Konjac material the potential to act both as a prebiotic substrate, promoting the growth of colonic bacteria beneficial to health, and as a pharmaceutical excipient which allows the targeted release of drugs in the colon. Restricting the release of certain drugs to the colon is positive for reasons including the prevention of irritation to other parts of the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. the stomach), direct absorption into the systemic circulation and delivery of drugs whose required effect is in the colon (e.g. for treatment of colon cancer). If these applications are verified, the use of Konjac glucomannans could bring significant health benefits to the population. If, in addition, it were possible to develop an economically viable manufacturing process for the glucomannans, this would open up a number of valuable new market segments. The participants possess a combination of skills in the purification and manipulation of carbohydrates which make them uniquely able to evaluate and develop this opportunity at the technical level. They also have access to the targeted market segments, which will allow them to generate economic benefits from the applications developed (obesity and cholesterol treatment, diabetes, chronic and pathologic intestinal discomfort, etc.). Keywords: oligosaccharides, glucomannan, pharmaceuticals.
Acronym: 
GLUCOLIGO
Project ID: 
2 970
Start date: 
01-11-2003
Project Duration: 
34months
Project costs: 
1 510 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Pharmaceutics
Market Area: 
Health food

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