A US patent for the preparation of water soluble salts of lipoic acid was recently issued, after the supplier formulated a method to render it both stable and water soluble. This process greatly increases potential applications. "This ingredient will find diversified applications in cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals because of its stability and solubility," Lakshmi Prakash, vice president of innovation and business development at Sabinsa, told NutraIngredients-USA. The salts are said to have anti acne properties and slow down collagenase and elastase enzymes. Sabinsa's patented version has a potentially wider range of applications. "The water soluble salts of lipoic acid manufactured under this patented process are able to be incorporated into various compositions, including topical formulas, much more easily than other forms of lipoic acid," said Prakash. The new patented ingredient is essentially the salts of a structurally enhanced form of lipoic acid, said Prakash. Sabinsa claims the biological activity of the antioxidant is improved due to this enhanced synthetic version. "These are novel compounds that we have obtained," said Prakash. The chief advantages of Sabinsa's lipoic acid compound, according to the company, are that it is non-hydroscopic (and therefore won't render formulations pasty), it remains stable, is soluble in solvents commonly used in cosmeceuticals and is more active than other forms of lipoic acid. The active form of lipoic acid found in the body, dihydro lipoic acid, is easily leeched from cells. However, in its enhanced synthetic form it remains in the cell, according to Prakash. US patent 7202270 - "Convenient stable non-hygroscopic crystalline solid forms of racemic and chiral LA-plus salts: process for their manufacture and uses" - covers the production of crystalline salts of N-[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]-1,2-dithiolane-3-pentanamide. This patent protects the preparation of lipoic acid water soluble salts, including salts of the active chiral form R(+)-lipoic acid, which has been shown in studies to be particularly effective. However, its previous insolubility in water and lack of stability deterred manufacturers from using the lipoic acid in certain compositions. According to Prakash, all forms of lipoic acid currently sold on the market are also synthetic. "The addition of this patent further strengthens our extensive intellectual property portfolio," said Sabinsa CEO Muhammed Majeed. Some of Sabinsa's patents, including that for the use of Bioperine, were contested recently. The company took legal action against DNP International for allegedly infringing its patents. The US Patent and Trademark Office completed a formal review of Sabinsa Corporation's patent for the black pepper extract and has found the intellectual property to be valid.