Production of Rare Inositols: Conversion of Agricultural Wastes into Value Added Product

Authors: 
Takenaka, S., Kobe University

The Innovative Bio-Production Kobe project (iBioK) aims to realize “Bio-Production”, which can produce various kinds of chemicals from renewable biological resource.  The target chemicals to be produced are not only the bulk chemicals such as fuels, plastics, and fibers but also small and relatively expensive fine chemicals.  In particular, many of physiologically-active fine chemicals can be produced efficiently only with advantages of strong biotechnology, and they are high-value-added with various uses in pharmaceuticals, functional foods, supplements, and so on.

Within the framework of the iBioK project, we cooperate with the food company Fujicco to promote the production of useful rare inositols from agricultural wastes.  Inositol stands for a group of chemical substances of sixfold alcohol (polyol) of cyclohexane.  Some of them are reported to have beneficial physiological activities.  For instance, scyllo-inositol has been designated as a fast track target by US FDA, because of its effect on the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.  On the other hand, D-pinitol has been shown to be effective on hyperglycemia and obesity.  We are developing biotechnologies with Bacillus subtilis and Geobacillus kaustophilus to produce them from unused agricultural residues, such as rice bran and soybean leaves, stems, and pods.  We expect that our developing technologies would lead to creation of new industries in the future.

By the way as described above, these inositol compounds have not been generally in use yet, it is necessary to devise their smooth introduction into society.  From this point of view, we tie-up with the Graduate School of Medicine and have attempted to introduce a new concept of "medical supplements".  The "medical supplements" are special supplements provided based on the guidance by health care providers for the benefit of those who are in some health problem.  In the case of D-pinitol, the medical supplement is designed for diebatic patients or those who are likely to get diabetic.  Approved by the ethics committee of the Graduate School of Medicine, a use test of the medical supplement containing D-pinitol is currently in progress.

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