Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spruce HMR lignan may slow development of hormonal cancers: Health effects from bioactive substances in tree knots

02.06.2006
Knot heartwood, i.e. the knot or branch section contained within the tree stem, has been found to contain considerably large amounts of phenolic protective agents. These bioactive substances contained in knot heartwood can be isolated and utilised e.g. in health foods and medicines or as special chemicals in other products. This year has seen the first tree knot extract product brought onto the market. Current interest is centred around HMR lignan, which has been isolated from spruce knot heartwood. Experimental research shows HMR to have a slowing effect on the development of e.g. hormonal cancers.

“Knot heartwood is easily utilised because it’s delivered along with the wood raw material to pulp and paper mills, where it can be separated out via a relatively simple process,” says Professor Bjarne Holmbom of Åbo Akademi University. Holmbom’s team at the Centre of Excellence in Process Chemistry has been researching components derived from wood and their properties as a part of the Wood Material Science and Engineering Research Programme of the Academy of Finland and Tekes, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

The study, led by Holmbom, has analysed the knot heartwood of the main wood species in Finland as well as a number of foreign species. The first knot derivative product brought onto the market this year, HMR lignan isolated from spruce knot heartwood, will be marketed as a food additive. According to research carried out under the direction of Professor Risto Santti and Professor Sari Mäkelä at the University of Turku, HMR lignan slows down the development of hormonal cancers under test conditions. The substance may also have positive affects on cardiovascular diseases and other oestrogen dependent health problems such as menopause related conditions and osteoporosis.

“We don’t know whether this will be the next global brand after Benecol or Xylitol, but it has all the potential and there’s hope that it will,” says Holmbom.

Antioxidants in tree bark

Research by the Wood Material Science and Engineering Research Programme has, under Holmbom’s direction, also focused on derivatives of tree bark. Tree bark contains a variety of bioactive protective substances. For example, spruce bark contains large quantities of stilbenes which have numerous beneficial health effects.

“Research into natural sources of stilbenes has intensified in recent years. Studies are concentrated primarily on resveratrol, which has proven to be a strong antioxidant. It’s been shown to prevent the development of cancer and prolong cell lifespan,” Bjarne Holmbom says. Resveratrol is also found in the peel of black grapes and thus also in red wine.

Spruce bark contains small amounts of resveratrol but huge quantities, as much as ten percent of its own weight, of similar types of stilbenes. Holmbom’s team has analysed the components of spruce bark and isolated the most important stilbenes to undergo biotesting.

Towards natural chemistry

Professor Bjarne Holmbom believes that chemical production is currently entering a threshold of change. Today, demand is increasingly for more natural materials and chemicals in place of synthetic ones. In addition, the rising price of oil is threatening the petrochemistry industry.

“It’s now high time to develop new chemical production based on wood and other biomass-based natural materials in which renewable raw materials are produced using environmentally friendly processes and natural materials and natural chemical products. In other words, the chemicals industry must move gradually from “petro to bio”, i.e. from brown synthesis chemistry to green, natural chemistry,” Holmbom concludes.

Holmbom points out that the bulk of the world’s biomass is held in forests and the forest is the only really significant renewable organic raw material. “We now need to focus development on forest-based speciality materials and chemical production. Here in Finland we’re well positioned to be at the forefront of this development.”

Leena Vahakyla | alfa
Further information:
http://www.aka.fi/eng

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>