As one of the primary biomolecules in nature, carbohydrates are critical elements in nutrition provision, energy transportation, cell composition, etc. In view of their universality and essentiality in research, this article is an exploration of carbohydrates, especially those hot ones in the market.
Chemical Classifications of Carbohydrates
There are different ways to classify carbohydrates, such as by formulae or by structures. And the latter is becoming more common in recent years.
On the basis of structure, carbohydrates are roughly classified as simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates can be further subdivided into monosaccharides, disaccharides, and oligosaccharides. In the meantime, there is only one sugar unit in monosaccharides while two are bound together to form a disaccharide, and the condensation of 2-9 monomers to form oligosaccharides. Complex carbohydrates usually contain many combined single units (monosaccharides), while hundreds to thousands of related monosaccharides ultimately form polysaccharides.
Mainstream Carbohydrates in the Market
Since carbohydrates boast broad applications in drug and vaccine development, many manufacturers are contributing to the establishment of a complete supply chain. Take BOC Sciences for example, it possesses rich categories of carbohydrates in its product list, and several classes are in great demand:
As illustrated above, monosaccharides, including glucose, fructose, and galactose, are the simplest carbohydrates. They can be found in vegetables, milk, soft drinks, etc., and come in diverse shapes like sugars, starches, and fibers. Monosaccharides are proved to be the critical origins of energy for most living organisms. By breaking down the monosaccharide glucose, living organisms are able to harvest energy released from the bonds.
Research revealed that oligosaccharides exert great effects on promoting intestinal peristalsis and improving gastrointestinal absorption with a moderate intake. Besides, they showed certain features of cell recognition and adhesion. Glycoproteins and glycolipids are such examples that they can be attached to cells as receptors and accelerate the recognition and binding of molecules to different cells.
Polysaccharides contain long monosaccharide units joined together by glycosidic linkages, and most of them function as food storage. For instance, starch is the main polysaccharide storage for plants. Glycogen has an alternative name: animal starch, with its structure much similar to starch but has more extensive branching. Cellulose is one of the polysaccharides usually found in plants and, more precisely, is the major component of plant cells.
Given the constantly changing research demands on carbohydrates, suppliers also keep abreast of the times by offering various carbohydrate derivatives, enzyme substrates, and nonionic surfactants with optimized properties. For example, Alkylpolyglycoside (APG), composed of hydrophilic glucose and hydrophobic fatty alcohols, is now extensively used in cosmetics and medical fields due to its low toxicity. Both natural and synthetic methods are utilized to diversify the types of carbohydrates in supply. Generally, it is also feasible to modify carbohydrates with different functional groups for further application in chemical synthesis, drug design, etc.
An increasing number of biochemical suppliers are now engaged in the research, improvement, and production of carbohydrates. Related techniques and services, such as the conjugation of carbohydrates with peptides to obtain glycopeptides or other carbohydrate-based molecules, are gradually becoming mature to facilitate the development of therapeutics.