Xylitol, oligosaccharides and other new sugars with unique physiological functions, which are rapidly spreading through chewing gum and yogurt, are replacing sucrose in more and more fields. In terms of public health, the rare functional sugars that are more effective in solving social diseases such as diabetes and obesity, China, which has just caught up, is facing a sniper war that silently played chess games years ago.
On January 10, 2008, Beijing encountered the first significant cooling in the New Year. Far from Panggezhuang in Daxing District, more than 40 kilometers away from Beijing, the cold wind is mixed with yellow sand flowing in the open and hard fields, making people feel colder.
A piece of land still standing with air-dried corn stalks connects Zhang Lianxings factory building with the farmhouse in which he lives and works. Zhang Lianxing, deputy dean of the Jiangnan Research Institute of Jilin Chemical Industry Group, has been in these three points and lines almost every day for the past year.
I strongly request to come here to take charge of this project, because its market prospects are so good that I have a sense of accomplishment. Zhang Lianxings other identity is the general manager of Beijing Jianli Jiangnan Sugar Technology Co., Ltd. In 2006, his research institute and a Beijing company jointly established this company specializing in the research and development and production of functional sugar alcohols. What made Zhang Lianxing lay down his superior life and practice in the suburbs of Beijing is the rare sugar represented by the company, which is represented by L-arabinose.
Sugar is the main energy source of human life metabolism. Whether it is traditional sucrose or emerging starch sugar, and sugar alcohol sweeteners developed according to human health needs, such as sorbitol and maltitol, the monosaccharides are glucose, fructose or its derived sugar alcohol. Because they have 6 carbon atoms in their chemical structure, they are commonly known as 6 carbon sugars. However, 6-carbohydrates are high in calories and are likely to cause diabetes, cardiovascular and other diseases. At present, they are considered as another white drug in western society. Many countries are promoting the sugar project to replace sucrose with xylitol, which directly leads to The international market demand for xylitol remains high. However, due to the serious pollution of the common chemical production process of xylitol, many European countries have banned the construction of factories, and China has become the worlds largest xylitol production place.
Compared with xylitol, 5-carbon sugar L-arabinose has more strange physiological functions. In recent years, international physiologists and nutritionists have conducted a series of in-depth studies on the effect of L-arabinose on sugar metabolism in the intestine, and found that L-arabinose has a significant blocking effect on sucrose metabolism and transformation, making it effective in weight loss. The application prospects of diabetes control are promising. According to literature reports, as long as 2% of L-arabinose is added to ordinary sucrose, it can inhibit the absorption of 40% sucrose, and also inhibit the blood sugar level from increasing by about 50%; if the amount of L-arabinose reaches 4% , Can make blood sugar levels do not rise at all, almost no secretion of insulin.
The Japanese government attaches great importance to national health, so Japan is an international leader in the application of arabinoses functional food. Japan ’s Ministry of Health and Welfare includes L-arabinose as a special special health food additive for regulating blood sugar, and the American Medical Association also includes L-arabinose as an anti-obesity nutritional supplement or over-the-counter medicine. L-arabinose, as a low-calorie sweetener, has been approved as a health food additive by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The Chinese Medical Association estimates that China currently has at least 40 million people with diabetes, and it has become the third largest country in the world with diabetes, and another 60 million people with pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance). Therefore, once L-arabinose is promoted as the governments legal sucrose additive, its impact on ordinary people in China can be as big as adding salt to iodine and soy sauce to iron.
In addition, L-arabinose can be used to synthesize antiviral drugs such as nucleoside analogs, and chemotherapeutic drugs for treating leukemia and cancer. It is understood that there are currently five new anti-HBV drugs entering the phase III clinical trials in the world, two of which use L-arabinose as the raw material: the new drug Clevudine (L-FMAU) (pyrimidine nucleotide analog) developed by the Korean company Bukwang. , And the new drug Telbivudine (an L-nucleoside analogue) developed by Novartis of Switzerland. In view of the large number of hepatitis B patients in the world, especially Asia (China has 120 million hepatitis B patients and virus carriers), this medicinal use of L-arabinose is also huge.
But the price of this rare and functional sugar with amazing functions has always been prohibitive. Due to the limitations of separation and purification technology, the price of L-arabinose remains high, and the market price in Japan, Europe and the United States is 100,000 to 120,000 US dollars / ton. In China, because there are almost no industrialized manufacturers, the unit price of L-arabinose for research purposes has even increased tenfold on this basis.
The average research institute cannot afford such a price. Zhang Lianxing bought 100 grams of L-arabinose at a high price in 2007 for component analysis, and found a way to produce L-arabinose.
Zhang Lianxings method of producing functional sugar is unique in the field of functional sugar. Zhang Lianxing introduced that the traditional production of functional sugars such as xylitol by acid hydrolysis will be accompanied by a large amount of waste liquid, but it still contains various sugar alcohol components. Taking xylitol as an example, the xylitol content in the waste liquid is about 40%. For most manufacturers, these active ingredients cannot be extracted and can only be discharged as waste water, which causes serious environmental pollution. Zhang Lianxing took this seriously and used the chemical technology accumulated for many years to overcome the waste liquid extraction technology in 2006, turning the waste liquid from the production of xylitol into the mother liquor for extracting L-arabinose.
Although Zhang Lianxings xylitol plant has an annual output of less than 200 tons, the money earned is enough to feed Zhang Lianxings research on rare sugar alcohols. This day of research based on production and nutrition should continue. For Zhang Lianxing, if the bottleneck of low-cost production of L-arabinose is broken, the high price of L-arabinose will be pulled down, which will give downstream product application research and development and Marketing provides the foundation.
There are still many companies searching for arabinose at the same time as Zhang Lianxing. Research institutions including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan University, etc. are also in this wave, looking for opportunities to leverage the L-arabinose gold market through various methods. .
It is understood that a returnee enterprise in Xiamen is also launching an L-arabinose project. The unique feature of the project is that through the use of a biological enzyme conversion method with independent intellectual property rights, not only can it use xylitol waste liquid, but also extract and produce 99% from agricultural wastes containing hemicellulose, such as corn, sugar cane, and straw. The above high-purity rare functional sugars such as xylitol, L-arabinose and L-ribose. Some experts who saw the important economic, social and national strategic significance of L-arabinose have high hopes for the project.
As a result of breakthroughs in key technologies of biological engineering and fermentation engineering, the use of essential catalyst hydrogen in traditional chemical methods has been abandoned. This project has achieved industrialization in terms of cost, production efficiency, environmental impact, raw material availability, and safety. Innovation has great industrial and social strategic significance in international cutting-edge areas such as new pharmaceutical raw materials and new food resources development, and in key areas of the National Eleventh Five-Year Plan. It also truly reflects recycling, green economy, and environmental friendliness. Yao Jianpei, a senior member of the Standing Committee of the China Development Bank Expert Committee, said, The advantage of biotechnology is not just to reduce production costs. The quality of its products, especially the safety of food and medicine, has advantages unmatched by chemical law production.
Dr. Xiao Xinhua, chief physician of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, further pointed out that the difficult and expensive treatment of diabetes has become a global problem of concern to governments in various countries. In recent years, countries have begun to focus on the prevention of diabetes and use lifestyle interventions to alleviate the concentrated outbreak of diabetes.
But even if low-cost production of L-arabinose becomes possible, Zhang Lianxing still have to face greater challenges: On October 3, 2007, they learned from the website of the State Intellectual Property Office that a company called Sanhe Xingsan Co., Ltd. The patent for diabetes treatment drug (zl01818856.7) applied by the Japanese company was officially authorized. This means that one of the most extensive uses of L-arabinose has been closed before Chinese companies have industrially produced L-arabinose.
In this Diabetes Therapeutic Drug patent filed by Sanwa Industrial Co., Ltd., the scope of protection is that sucrose added with 0-95% ratio of L-arabinose has a significant function of lowering blood glucose indicators.
Earlier on April 30, 2003, the same Sanhe Industrial Co., Ltd. applied for a patent named Method for Producing L-Arabinose by Acid Hydrolysis (zl99805686.3) in China.
Sanwa Kosan Co., Ltd. is a member company of Japans well-known comprehensive trading company Mitsui \u0026 Co., Ltd. and a shareholder of a company called Miwa Starch Co., Ltd. According to relevant data, in 2004, Sanwa Starch started to produce L-arabinose using the basic technology of the Japanese contract alcohol company, and Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd. sold the applicable products with granulated sugar. But perhaps there are still technical difficulties and no breakthroughs. Sanhe Starch now only has a production capacity of 100 tons of L-arabinose per year, and the three Japanese companies are working together to promote the application of new uses.
Mitsui Sugar is a member of Mitsui \u0026 Co., Ltd.s core enterprise organization, the “Emiya Club”, and is a direct holding company of Mitsui \u0026 Co. Its predecessor was the Taiwan Sugar Co., Ltd. established by the Mitsui Foundation during the Japanese colonial Taiwan in 1900. Using the monopoly policy established by Japan in Taiwan, Mitsui Corporation and Mitsubishi and Tengshan developed in 20 years to manipulate the entire Taiwan to Japan Super giant of cane sugar.
Mitsui Corporation was established in 1876. After more than 100 years of development, it has formed at the core layer financial companies such as banks, insurance, trusts, etc., relying on a global trading network to obtain investment information, and then through a large number of cross-shareholding capital bonds to jointly develop the market. The industry is almost all-encompassing, forming a huge corporate empire with three major business types: trade, services, and business investment, and a small shareholding. This huge empire includes famous companies such as Sumitomo Bank, Panasonic, Toshiba, Nippon Steel, Toyota, and Rakuten. Mitsui \u0026 Co. ’s sales in 2005 reached US $ 126.5 billion and net profit was US $ 1.7 billion. Its 582 affiliates are located around the world. In 1980, Mitsui \u0026 Co. set up Chinas first office in Beijing, and now it has developed into a large-scale trading, production and investment institution with 14 offices and more than 110 joint ventures and sole proprietorships in China.
It is normal for such a large enterprise organization to file a patent application in China, but this L-arabinose patent application has something unusual.
An industry insider pointed out that Japanese companies have studied the patent system very deeply, but have shown a puzzling layman on L-arabinose: Acid hydrolysis to produce sugar alcohol is a traditional process in the industry, but they are used to It is ridiculous to apply for a patent, but what is even more incredible is that the patent has been approved.
He explained that functional sugars are common in various plant fibers, and as early as the 1950s, the Soviet Union developed a method for acid-lying birch bark to produce xylitol. At present, the most common production method of the functional sugar alcohol industry is to decompose plant fibers and semi-vegetable fibers with acid, and then produce various types of sugar alcohol through hydrogenation reaction. From this point of view, Mitsui Japans patent for a production method applied by Miwa Kosan Co., Ltd. has a significant lack of innovation.
L-arabinose as an emerging healthy sugar requires a process that is recognized and accepted by the people and the world. It is expected to be widely used in dairy products, pastries, breads, childrens foods, ice cream, beverages, desserts / chocolate / household sugar and other foods.