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Decoding of Sugar
15.06.2012 | More than 80% of the global bio mass are made up of sugars. They are constituents in cell membranes and provide stability for cells. However, these are no ordinary sugars in the traditional sense but complex structures with more than 10 different basic blocks (monomer sugars). Glycomics or glyco sciences research the physiological significance of sugars. They try to to unravel the secrets of complex structures – the sugar codes.

Sugar structures are involved in all infectious diseases. In the case of Malaria or HIV/AIDS, the first contact with the cell occurs through sugar structures. Researchers view the prospect of developing new vaccines to immunize the cell against pathogens.

How useful complex sugars (oligosaccharides) can be for the development of a healthy gut flora is shown by the example breast milk. Breast milk is rich in acidic and neutral oligosaccharides. Earlier they were labelled just as dietary fibre, without knowing their significance. However, they are not energy suppliers but promote growth of a healthy gut flora (lactobacillus and bifido bacteria). They prevent pathogens from settling and reproducing in the gut.

But to begin with, the structural formula of sugars have to be unravelled, because only in this way functional properties can be understood. GALAB belongs to the few companies analysing these compounds. Our core competence is the analysis of raw materials for the food industry and biopharmaceutical industry.

In a recently finalized research project in cooperation with Milupa/DANONE new methods for the analysis of oligosaccharides were developed which can be applied for quality assurance of raw materials (SialPlus). With the GlycoImage® sialic acid kit bound sialic acid can be distinguished from free sialic acid.