Glycobiotechnology – Sweet Solutions For Life Science

biopharma Oligosaccharides – Summary of Our Services

Glycans of glycoproteins and oligosaccharides consist of complex sugar compounds which may be linear or branched. They differ in length, composition of monosaccharides and their physiological significance. For unravelling the sugar code, we offer a variety of analytical solutions.

Glyco Analysis
Whether cosmetic products or food, we determine the composition of oligosaccharides in raw materials and final products. You assure the constant quality of your raw materials with our service. State-of-the-art infant formula contains oligosaccharides in the form of GOS and FOS (galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides). Additionally, breast milk is rich in bound sialic acid (e.g. sialyllactose). Learn more about our sialic acid analysis.

Glyco Profiling
Glycoproteins usually contain many different glycan structures. Using glycan profiling we are able to generate characteristic fingerprints. Composition and variation of glycan structures can be exactly identified.

Lectin ELISA
Lectins selectively identify linking of complex glycans and can therefore distinguish between bound glycans and free glycans. The GlycoImage® sialic acid ELISA is devised specifically for the differentiation of bound and free sialic acid in milk powder for infant formula.


Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are bioactive compo­nents in baby food. They improve development of the infants’ gut flora. The exact compo­sition of oligosaccharides depends on the respective manufacturing process and the applied raw materials. GOS are manufactured biocatalytically using lactose and galactose and FOS are gained from crop plants such as chicory.

We check the quality of your raw materials and the composition of oligosaccharides. Analytical methods specifically developed by GALAB and qualified by the food industry are available for our customers. We determine the GOS/FOS profile of raw materials and final products as well as the total monosaccharide content.

For queries regarding analysis our customer support is at your service.

Pectin/Galacturonic Acid

Pectins are polysaccharides with a high water binding capacity. Therefore typical appli­cations for pectins are as gelling agents for jams and marmalades. Pectins consist of linear chains of galacturonic acid which may be further branched via rhamnose and further monosaccharides. Galacturonic acid is present in its free or methylated form. Pectins are gained from peels of citrus fruits, but also from apple or beet remains.

By choice of raw materials and processing various pectin types with differing properties and application areas can be manufactured.

We offer a broad range of analyses for the characterisation of pectins. Apart from deter­mining various soluble and insoluble pectin fractions, we analyse degree of methylation as well as the content of galacturonic acid (pectic content).

Bioactive Oligosaccharides Containing Sialic Acid

Breast Milk as Model
Breast milk is ideally suited for the nutrition and development of new born infants because of its nutritional constituents like proteins, fat and carbohydrates. Not only does breast milk differ significantly in its constitution of nutrients from cow milk, but also because of compounds with a certain functionality and the structure of components. Major components are carbohydrates, lactose serves as an energy source.

Infant formula is based on cow milk components, among them fat, milk powder, whey powder and lactose, however, the composition of the formula varies according to age and official regulation for nutrients.

A major difference of human milk compared to cow milk is the up to 30-times higher content of free oligosaccharides (OS). The colostrum which is the first milk or pre-milk for new born infants contains the highest content of free OS, approx. 20 – 23 g/L which decreases in the following weeks to 9 g/L.

Milk oligosaccharides are built with 5 basic blocks: glucose (glc), galactose (gal), N-acetylglucosamine (glcNac), fucose (fuc) and sialic acid (neu5ac). Human milk oligosaccharides consist of a lactose basic unit with (gal-glcNac]-chain elongations with final fucose and sialic acid units. The structural diversity of oligosaccharides is partly due to a variation of basic blocks, but mainly due to the different combination of two monosaccharides. Sialic acid or N-acetylneuraminic acid are predominantly α2-6-bound in human OS, whereas in cow milk they are mainly α2-3-bound.

Physiological Significance
Neutral and acidic OS containing sialic acid are important for the growth of the gut flora bacteria (lactobacillus and bifido bacteria). Furthermore sialo-oligosaccharides play an important role in the development of the central nervous system as studies with mice have shown. No oligosaccharides similar to those in breast milk can be added so far to infant formula, since manufacturing is extremely difficult. In a joint research project in cooperation with the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, scientists try to develop a manufacturing process based on biocatalysis (GlykoBioKat).

Sialic Acid Analysis
Predominantly, sialic acid is present in breast milk bound to free oligosaccharides. Colostrum contains approx. 1 g/100 g sialic acid (mainly as sialyllactose) and decreases to approx. 0.2 g/100 g after 120 days. Cow milk contains only a fifth of this amount. Breast milk differs greatly from cow milk in which sialic acid is bound mainly to glycoproteins, for example as a glycosylated subunit of casein.

We analyse your raw materials for the content of bound and free sialic acid. For further information our customer support is at your service.

Advisory Service

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GALAB Laboratories GmbH
Am Schleusengraben 7
21029 Hamburg


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