Betulin

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General
  • Betulinic acid is a pentacyclic triterpene. It has several botanical sources, but can also be chemically derived from betulin, a substance found in abundance in the outer bark of white birch trees . Betulinic acid has been found to selectively kill human melanoma cells while leaving healthy cells alive.
  • The cytotoxic potential of betulinic acid was tested using three human melanoma cell lines, MEL-1, -2, -3, and -4.
  • Betulinic acid seems to work by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Due to its apparent specificity for melanoma cells, betulinic acid seems to be a more promising anti-cancer substance than drugs like Taxol because Taxol seems to be a more general cell poison and is not specific to cancer cells.
  • Betulinic acid has also been found to retard the progression of HIV 1 infection, which eventually leads to AIDS, by preventing the formation of syncytia (cellular aggregates). In addition, betulinic acid has antibacterial properties and inhibits the growth of both Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
  • Betulinic acid isn't very poisonous, is relatively inexpensive, and is abundantly available from the bark of white birch trees in the form of betulin. The compound is presently undergoing preclinical development.

Process

  • The birch-bark is manufactured in a large amount as a side product of birch-wood harvest and processing. The most valuable extractive compound of the birch-bark is the betulin which exhibits the biological activity.
  • Betulin and its derivatives has good prospects for their application in medicine and pharmaceutics industry. The known methods of betulin producing are based on its extraction isolation from the outer layer of a birch bark.
  • Neutral and acidic components of the hexane extract were separated by 20% NaOH. Along with the betulin, the polyphenols, tanning substances and sugars were found in ethylacetate and isopropanol extracts.
     

Production

  • Soyasaponin accumulation was reported to be promoted by transfer of cells into the production medium.Timing course of cell growth and the production of soyasaponin,betulinic acid and total phytosterol in cultured licorice cells in the standard medium or the production medium.B

  • Both soyasaponin and betulinic acid accumulation was stimulated in the production medium,the time course of betulinic acid accumulation was different from that of soyasaponins. The amount of betulinic acid began to increase on day 8 in the production medium, whereas soyasaponin and phytosterol accumulation was nearly parallel to cellgrowth.

Application

  • Betulinic acid is  used in Activation of Mitochondria and Release of Mitochondrial Apoptogenic Factors.

  • Differential effect of betulin and betulinic acid on cytokine production in human whole blood cell cultures.

  • Simple synthesis of allobetulin, 28-oxyallobetulin and related biomarkers from betulin and betulinic acid catalysed by solid acids.

  • Synthesis of a new triterpenoid  steroid hybrid molecule from Betulin.

Report

  • In Russia, a company has developed a method to isolate betulin from birch bark and has been producing commercial quantities of the compound. The company currently sells cosmetics and food supplements containing betulin in Europe and Japan. The company however, has no customers in the North American cosmetic market.
  • The University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Research Institute formed a partnership with an energy company and a paper company to develop and patent a process that would cost-effectively isolate pure betulin and other compounds from birch bark in large quantities.
  • Before birch compounds could be offered to the cosmetic industry, scientists needed to find ways to extract betulinic acid (a naturally occurring compound) from the bark. Building on the university’s research ability, scientists have patented a way to successfully convert betulin to betulinic acid.

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