|Appearance||Transparent oily liquid|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Polyprenols are natural long-chain isoprenoid alcohols of the general formula H-(C5H8)n-OH where n is the number of isoprene units. Any prenol with more than 4 isoprene units is a polyprenol. Polyprenols play an important function acting as natural bioregulators and are found in small quantities in various plant tissues. Dolichols, which are found in all living creatures, including humans, are their 2,3-dihydro derivatives.
Polyprenols have been researched in many leading universities and laboratories for more than 30 years. Interest has been strongest in Russia, Europe, Japan, India and the United States.
In the early 1930s, a scientific team at the Forest Technical Academy in St Petersburg, Russia led by Professor Fyodor Solodky, the founder of Forest Biochemistry, and Dr Asney Agranet, began research into the composition of conifer tree needles. They were intrigued by the trees' ability to remain disease free in extremes of temperature ± 40 degrees Celsius. Development of Solodky's research led Russian scientists to isolate a completely different class of organic substance from the needles, including polyprenols.
What polyprenols are to plants, dolichols are to all living creatures, including man. They are in fact of a very similar chemical composition. Dolichols are a derivative of polyprenols with a saturated isoprene unit.
All proteins from secretions, membranes and intracellular glycoproteins form the basis for the building of membrane receptors which are used in the production of insulin, adrenalin, oestrogen, testosterone and other hormones and enzymes. Seemingly, dolichols have an important role in maintenance of the correct lipid composition of membranes. Decreased levels of dolichols are registered with acute rheumatism and other immunodeficient conditions.
The dolichol phosphate cycle facilitates the process of cellular membrane glycosylation, that is, the synthesis of glycoproteins that control the interactions of cells, support the immune system and the stabilization of protein molecules. Out of all these glycoproteins, polyglycoprotein has the capacity to kill cancerous cells during chemotherapy whilst protecting healthy cells within the body.
The pharmacological activity of polyprenols takes place in the liver where they are metabolized into dolichols.
Potential medical applications
The interest in polyprenols and dolichols is associated with their wide range of demonstrated biological activity and extremely low toxicity.
Polyprenols stimulate the immune system, cellular reparation and spermatogenesis, and have antistress, adaptogenic, antiulcerogenic and wound-healing activity. Dolichols have antioxidant activity and protect cell membranes from peroxidation. Experiments on mice have demonstrated that polyprenols have antiviral activity, in particular against influenza viruses. It has been established that the dolichol level in liver tumor cells are reduced in comparison with healthy hepatic cells.
The Australian pharmaceutical company, Solagran Limited, has been investigating the medical significance of polyprenols and their substitution with dolichols when ingested where there is a deficiency. Trials of Ropren (already pharmaceutically registered as a hepatoprotector in relation to neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease) in both Russia and Australia indicate potential as a safe and effective treatment.
Companies such as Larodan Fine Chemicals AB in Sweden and Indofine Chemical Company, Inc. in the United States produce small quantities of polyprenols for scientific research purposes. Depending on the number of isoprene units, the cost can vary up to around US$100,000 per gram.
A Russian company by the name of SibEX has developed the world's first commercial polyprenols manufacturing facility in the university city of Tomsk in central Siberia. SibEX is claiming the ability to manufacture polyprenols at up to 20 kg per month from conifer needles sourced from the Siberian forests.
SibEX is majority-owned by Solagran. That company has historic links with the Forest Technical Academy in St Petersburg. Solagran has developed a medicinal product by the name of Ropren, the main substance of which is a 95% purity concentrate of polyprenols. Ropren has recently been registered as a pharmaceutical in Russia as a hepatoprotector, and has recently commenced being used in Russian hospitals for the treatment of liver diseases and related conditions.
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- Company Announcement, Solagram Limited, 20 September 2005
- Company Announcement, Solagram Limited, 21 February 2007
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