New technology developed by experts in the FEMSA Center of Biotechnology at Technologic of Monterrey (ITESM) can purportedly use grated carrots to obtain natural compounds using the potential to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative conditions.

Furthermore, the procedure, which helps scientists to genetically engineer for increased amounts of bioactive compounds in vegetables, also allowed the researchers to acquire shikimic acid C a substance which is one of the raw materials used to produce antiviral drugs that assisted in the treatment of influenza.

Lead investigator Daniel Alberto Jacobo Velzques and his colleagues won the National Award in Food Science (PNCTA) 2012 in the Technology Professional in Food category for his or her work, an award presented by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the Coca-Cola\’s Mexico branch.

They have already requested a patent since the production, extraction and purification of phenolic compounds and shikimic acid while using proposed technology, which begins by activating the carrot\’s metabolism with the grating process.

Next, the carbon flow of the vegetable\’s metabolism is modulated by making use of glyphosate C an herbicide which helps inhibit enzyme production, based on the study authors. The technique allows scientists to stockpile considerable amounts of shikimic acid and phenolic compounds inside the plant\’s tissue.

\”The first four parts of the study happen to be completed, we have determined the mechanism by which the carrot produces this compounds when subjected to stress,\” explained Velzquez. \”Now, we look for the optimization of the production therefore the plant tissue will secrete more of this compounds.\”

\”Afterwards we\’d like to extract them to produce dietary supplements and shikimic acid. The shikimic acid is the raw material that the pharmaceutical industry needs to produce Tamiflu, a useful drug within the treatment against flu,\” he continued, adding that carrot was chosen because it responds to various types of stress (like grating) and because it is grown internationally. That latter attribute implies that the technology might be used worldwide.

In addition to extracting shikimic acid, the strategy allows phenolic compounds (chemical substances that includes a hydroxyl group bonded directly to an aromatic hydrocarbon group) to be obtained. Those compounds help prevent diseases in humans, largely because they have antioxidant properties that really help neutralize free radicals in the blood stream, thus preventing the appearance of chronic degenerative diseases.

According to Velzquez, shikimic acid is currently obtained from the Star anise, a plant which is only produced in China. Conversely, the carrot is cultivated in lots of nations around the world. Bioactive compounds, on the other hand, are presently produced through genetic engineering, but the ITSEM team\’s alternative method only requires the plant\’s tissue to be stressed through cutting (grating) and by applying herbicides.

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