Patents File — Phospholipids

Phospholipids offer an attractive combination of nutritional and technological properties to the functional foods formulator. In addition to acting as emulsifiers, surfactants or liposome formers, they also provide essential fatty acids and have cholesterol-lowering, immune-enhancing and brain-performance-improving effects. Judy Davis looks at a few recent patents

Pure Phospholipids
Industrial-scale production of pure phospholipids is not without its problems; for example, many methods require the presence of organic solvents, which can introduce undesirable impurities and also may increase the likelihood of peroxidation reactions, leading to impaired palatability.

Researchers from Italian company Fidia Farmaceutici have now developed a method that avoids such problems. By using a purified fraction of phospholipase-D obtained from Streptoverticillium hachijoense, they have found that it is possible to obtain high-purity phospholipids in high yields in a wholly aqueous reaction medium. Furthermore, the product suffers from no peroxidative off-flavour problems, and a high yield is still possible even when low-cost unpurified products other than lecithin are used as the raw material. According to the patent, the resulting phospholipid preparations can be used in pharmaceutical and functional foods applications for treatment of the attention, concentration and memory deficits associated with ageing. (European Patent Application 1 231 213)

Vitamin F
The vitamins we are most familiar with are vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K—very few of us have heard of vitamin F. However, thanks to a product patented by Belovo Egg Products, this could soon change. Apparently, Vitamin F is a term sometimes used for the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for health, including, but not exclusively, DHA, EPA and GLA. The Belovo patent describes "a new manufactured lipid nano-emulsion containing an improved balanced dietary source of vitamin F," said to be particularly suitable for supplementing the diets of infants and the elderly.

The product consists of essential fatty acids encapsulated in egg phospholipid micelles—a formulation designed to mimic as closely as possible the characteristic emulsified state of human milk. According to the invention, one gram of the product provides a similar amount of phospholipids, cholesterol and essential fatty acids as found in human milk.

For products aimed at the elderly, the major phospholipids from egg yolk (phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl ethanolamine) are enzymically converted to phosphatidyl serin—the form of phospholipid most predominant in brain tissue. The transformation is designed to increase transport of the product into the brain. (European Patent Application 1 181 870)

Phospho- And Sphingolipid Combinations
Key lipid components of cell membranes, sphingolipids have recently attracted a lot of attention as potential functional foods ingredients. Digestion products incorporating sphingolipids (ceramides and sphingoid bases) are highly bioactive and known to be involved in regulation of cell growth, cell differentiation and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Studies have indicated that sphingolipids suppress carcinogenesis, and in particular, colon cancer.

Belgian company Marc Boone NV has now filed a patent for products enriched in phospho- and sphingolipids. The products are made by ultrafiltration of casein-free by-products obtained after milk has been processed into products such as cream, butter or butter oil. As well as being particularly rich in phospholipids and sphingolipids, the resulting products also contain membrane proteins, immunoglobulins and lactoglobulins. The concentrate is lyophilised or spray-dried to form the final nutraceutical or functional foods ingredient. (PCT Patent Application WO 02/34062)

Israeli company Lipogen Ltd has been granted a patent in the US for a phospholipid-based product intended as an antidepressant and de-stressor. The product is formed from lecithin by enzymic transformation using phospholipase-D in the presence of L-serine and water. Its principal active ingredients are phosphatidyl-L-serine and phosphatidic acid. The product can be administered as a nutritional supplement or incorporated into functional foods. According to the results of small-scale studies, the product can help alleviate depression and reduce cortisol levels in periods of emotional and mental stress. (US Patent 6,410,522)

This information has been compiled by the UK-based Leatherhead Food International.
For further information, contact Judy Davis, Tel: +44 1372 822278
E-mail: [email protected]

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