Tekes, Foundation for Research of Natural Resources in Finland & Marjatta ja Eino Kollin Säätiö: Ubiquitous Compounds of Birch Bark as a Sustainable Raw Material

Project Details

Description (abstract)

The birch research consortium comprises a multidisciplinary research project including agricultural zoology/entomology, biology, industrial chemistry, medicinal chemistry and synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Helsinki, Technical Research Centre of Finland and scientific collaborators from Brazil, Germany, Israel, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland and the USA. The project is aimed at synthesizing new fine and specialty chemicals, focusing especially on the use of betulin and suberin as starting materials and to characterize their properties in terms of biological action, material science and physiological action. Birch bark is a highly ubiquitous raw material, and it contains approximately 40 percent betulin (dry weight) and 40 percent suberin. Vast amount of birch bark is produced as a side product of the forest industries, and presently it is not processed further. The new chemical derivatives of betulin and suberin open new avenues for interesting applications of these abundant natural products.
The specific objectives are (i) to synthesize new derivatives of betulin and suberin acid and phenolic derivatives from suberin; (ii) to study the synthesized compounds for their biological activities, properties, and potential for various applications, and (iii) to determine the relationship between chemical structure of betulin compounds and their biological activity.
The collection of new derivatives of Betula terpenoids, mimetics and analogues based on the major chemical constituents of the birch bark will be evaluated for their activity in vitro against several pathogenic microbes, such as protozoal parasites (Leishmania sp., Trypanosoma sp.), intracellular bacteria (Chlamydia pneumoniae) and drug-resistant bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).
Collaborators: Jose María Alunda (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain), Stewart Cole, (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland), Julie Frearson (University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland), Charles L. Jaffe (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel), Kim D. Janda (The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA), Sergio Schenkman (Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil), Pia Vuorela (Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland).
Effective start/end date01/01/200431/12/2009