Safely Tucked Away - Wacker Chemie AG

Safely Tucked Away


Safe From Outside Influences

Another useful property of cyclodextrins is their protective action. Cyclodextrins shield numerous functional compounds against various external influences (such as low pH, oxygen, and light) that could compromise their effectiveness. These molecular-sized carriers are highly adept at stabilizing alpha-lipoic acid, which is also used in dietary supplements and in sports nutrition. This substance plays an important role in our cells, where it acts as an efficient free-radical scavenger, neutralizing aggressive oxygen molecules that are formed by cell metabolism and can damage the body. Furthermore, alpha-lipoic acid can regenerate other, spent antioxidants (vitamins C, E, coenzyme Q10). For competitive athletes whose bodies are worked to the extremes, it is essential to have the right functionality in their food. In addition to protein drinks and energy bars, there are special powder mixtures available which are designed to replenish the depleted reserves of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – including alpha-lipoic acid. This compound is not easily incorporated into powder products as it is very sensitive, especially to heat and in the presence of certain minerals. "Even in the dry state, it can polymerize, i.e. form long, chain-like structures," explains Reuscher "This chemical reaction causes the alpha-lipoic acid to lose its desired effect."

Again, cyclodextrins can act as a practical protective cover: embedded in the sugar jacket, the sensitive molecule is safely tucked away inside the athlete’s special powdery dietary food. As soon as the cyclodextrin complex comes into contact with water, the alpha-lipoic acid emerges and is absorbed directly by the body – the free-radical scavenger enters the bloodstream unscathed. This “molecular shuttle” was developed specifically for alpha-lipoic acid by WACKER on behalf of AlzChem, a German specialty chemicals company, whose portfolio includes products for the food and sports nutrition field. "Marketed under the name Alipure ® CD, the cyclodextrin complex from AlzChem Trostberg GmbH ensures that the maximum-possible amount of scavengers retain their efficacy in the powdery end product and that we can use the precious raw material very efficiently, says Dr. Benedikt Hammer, head of New Business and Nutrition.

Green tea in packaging

All three of these examples illustrate the new approach adopted by WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, especially regarding the Nutrition business team’s strategy, namely the development and delivery of complete solutions tailored specifically to customers and their needs. "Many small and medium-sized suppliers to the food industry do not have their own R&D departments," says Osterloh. "This is our point of attack, where we use our expertise, our experience and our services to work together with customers on tailor-made solutions." For the future, the WACKER developers are targeting primarily three main effect platforms: masking of bitter substances, stabilization of sensitive substances, and improving the bioavailability of functional ingredients.

For Dr. Gerhard Schmid, president of WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, cyclodextrins are a perfect example of how biotech know-how and chemical expertise successfully interact. This combination is a key success factor and central to the division’s future life-sciences portfolio. "We want to redouble our efforts at exploiting synergies between these two areas of expertise and to develop innovative biotechnological products with high added value,” he says, summarizing the potential of this field. "Alongside WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS’ strong biotech and chemical expertise, another key aspect of our strategy is to develop and provide customized solutions." The use of cyclodextrins in dietary supplements or as food additives is one of many innovative ways in which the Group will be seeking to assist the food industry in the future.