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New products from starch-derived 1,5-Anhydro-D-Fructose (NEPSA)



Cell factory area


EU Contribution

2 599 988 Euro


36 months


Research project

Starting date


1,5-Anhydro-D-Fructose glucan lyase
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A new industrial monosaccharide, anhydro-fructose (AF), will be produced from starch by a new biocatalytic process using glucan lyase. Screening, in vitro evolution and rational enzyme design will be used to produce glucan lyase with high performance in the industrial bioconversion of starch to AF. In a concerted action the market potential of AF compound will be exploited by systematic enzymatic and chemical modification of this compound to produce a line of high-value added products, and to study their benefits on human health. One can envisage the production of AF both as bulk product and as a fine chemical dependent on its application in chemical synthesis, for therapy and as a food ingredient. The commercial development of AF and derivatives is envisaged by traditional and start-up bioindustries that participate in this transdisciplinary project.

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  • To develop an environment-friendly biocatalytic process for an economic and sustainable production of the new industrial monosaccharide anhydro-fructose (AF).
  • To develop a process-robust glucan lyase using in vitro evolution and gene shuffling involving structurally related starch-active enzymes.
  • To exploit the market potential of AF by systematic enzymatic and chemical modification of this compound to create a new line of high value-added products for applications in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

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The project work will begin with the production of the new sugar anhydro-fructose (AF) by treatment of starch with the enzyme glucan lyase. This will be made available to the partners and the project will use established methods to produce new and high value-added products derived from AF economicall, including the medical and nutritional evaluation of such products. It will finish with an evaluation of the achievements of the project in terms of its beneficial socio-economic effects. A very broad array of diverse methodologies will be employed to achieve the objectives of the proposal, which is inherent to the highly integrated transdisciplinary approach pursued by the academic and industrial participants.

It is essential to improve the catalytic properties of glucan lyase for the financially feasible industrial production of AF. The screening of natural resources as well as advanced biotechnological methodologies assisted by bioinformatics strategy will be used to obtain enzymes with improved properties. In addition, the starch degradation process will be developed using biochemical engineering to provide the project partners with sufficient amounts of AF. Concurrently, AF will be used as the starting material for extensive biocatalytic and chemical modification to produce a line of high value-added products. In particular the synthesis of an array of monomeric, oligomeric and polymeric compounds from AF are envisaged which may include new sweeteners, antioxidants, emulsifiers, nutritional oligosaccharides, and new polymeric biomaterials. While AF as a monosugar is not sweet in itself, it has proved to be an antioxidant, a humectant and a calorie-free sweetener filler in in vitro tests. This will be further investigated using food models for its shelf-life and its organoleptic effect. The expected market potentials of these compounds are in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

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  • Providing glucan lyase variants with improved characteristics for industrial applications.
  • Providing new insights into the atomic resolution of the mechanism of action of glucan lyase and members of the same structural family involved in a large number of biological processes.
  • Biocatalytic and chemical synthesis of an array of new monomeric and oligomeric compounds from AF with expected applications in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
  • The production of copolymers from AF with favourable hydrogel properties will create new biomaterials for cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications.
  • A possible beneficial effect of AF on Type 2 diabetes will be evaluated using animal models, and promising derivatives are included in these studies.

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  Prof. Dr. Friedrich Giffhorn
Department of Applied Microbiology
University Saarland
Im Stadtwald, Bau 2
66123 Saarbruecken, Germany
Tel: +49 6813022704
Fax: +49 6813024360

  Dr. Shukun Yu (sr. scientist)
Danisco Biotechnology
Langebrogade 1
PO Box 17
1001 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Tel: +45 32662259
Fax: +45 32662167

Dr. Birte Svensson
(sen. scient., adj. prof.)
Carlsberg Laboratory
Dept. of Chemistry
Gl. Carlsberg Vej 10
2500 Valby, Denmark
Tel: +45 33275345
Fax: +45 33274708

Prof. Dr. Sine Larsen
Centre for Crystallographic Studies
Department of Chemistry
University of Copenhagen
Universitetsparken 5
2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 35320282
Fax: +45 35320299

Prof. PhD Inge Lundt
Technical University of Denmark
Department of Chemistry
Laboratory of Organic Chemistry
Building 201
2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Tel: +45 45252133
Fax: +45 45933968

Prof. Dr. Pierre Monsan
Département de Génie Biochimique et Alimentaire,
INSA, 135 avenue de Rangueil
31077 Toulouse Cedex 4, France
Tel: +33 561559415
Fax: +33 561559399/400

Prof. Dr. Klaus Buchholz
Institut für Technologie der Kohlenhydrate
Technical University Braunschweig
Langer Kamp 5
38106 Braunschweig, Germany
Tel: +49 5313800920
Fax: +49 5313800988

Prof. Dr. Bo Ahrén
Department of Medicine
Lund University Hospital
221 84 Lund, Sweden
Tel: +46 462220758
Fax: +46 462220757
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