Oligosaccharides and low-molecular polysaccharides are polymers made of different sugar units. Specialist companies such as Esslingen-based Anoxymer GmbH are focusing on plant sugar structures that have a therapeutic and preventive benefit.
“We are hoping to produce relatively small galactans with a molecular weight of below 10,000, which do not usually occur in the food we eat. We are able to isolate them from carrot and algae extracts with an optimised degradation process (heating),” said Paper who also uses specific algal extracts to isolate carrageenans, a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides. Carrageenans are found in the cell wall of brown and red algae. It is assumed that they also have an anti-inflammatory effect in that they inhibit the aforementioned adhesion mechanisms. “Not all algal species possess carrageenans; at present, we are mainly interested in the red algae Chondrus crispus,” said Paper. Paper does not give away the secret of the method of preparation of the algae for the isolation of useful carrageenans – this is proprietary company knowledge. But it is known that heating the algae plays a major role in this process. “Basically, the modification of oligo- and polysaccharides is an optimized heating process, in which temperature, duration and occasionally also the pH is changed or salts are added for best results,” said Paper.