TITLE OF THE PROPOSAL: Identification of health-promoting bioactive components of carobs
CO-ORDINATOR AND PARTNERS: Andreas Constantinou, Professor of Molecular Biology, department of Biological Sciences, UCY; members of the Cancer Biology and Chemoprevention laboratory.
BENEFICIARY: Carob producers and industry, functional foods industry, dietary supplement companies, pharmaceutical companies.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT:
More than 60% of the drugs approved worldwide are derived from lead compounds obtained from plants. Anticancer agents, derived or modified from plant lead compounds include paclitaxel, topotecan, vinblastine and etoposide. Furthermore, many plant compounds demonstrate cancer preventive properties or other health benefits such as bone strength, cardiovascular, anti-obesity, delayed aging, etc. include tocopherols (from olives), phytoestrogens (from soybeans), resveratrol (from grapes), catechins (from green tea) and lycopene (from tomatoes and watermelon). Recent efforts by the pharmaceutical industries to develop novel drugs not originating from natural leads had little success, mainly due to the lack of structural diversity in purely synthetic compound libraries. Therefore, there is increasing interest in finding new natural sources that had not been previously exploded for the discovery of medicinal components that may benefit human health. The benefits can be either by maintaining human health, preventing disease or even curing disease. Carobs, although are a promising food source, their individual constituents are very little investigated and the three varieties found in Cyprus had not been explored at all.
The objective of this research proposal is to investigate the presence of unique components that may be present in carobs (Ceratonia silique) that could provide a benefit to human health. We will focus originally in screening crude extracts from the three Cyprus cultivars of carobs (Tylliria, Koundourka, koumbota) and their components (pods and seeds). We will also compare ripe and green pods. Subsequently, we will focus on the isolation and, if possible the characterization of known, but especially novel, compounds that may possess antioxidant or other properties that are consistent with cancer chemoprevention.
RELEVANCE TO POTENTIAL PRODUCTS AND SOCIETY:
Identification of components that can be useful as:
· Functional Foods
· Dietary Supplements