Anti-Cancer Molecule in Tomatoes Tracked by Researchers

Anti-Cancer Molecule in Tomatoes Tracked by Researchers
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a method to trace the body's absorption, distribution and metabolism of lycopene, a pigment that gives tomatoes their color and has been shown to reduce the growth of prostate tumors in several animal models. The research paper, entitled “Compartmental and non-compartmental modeling of ¹³C-lycopene absorption, isomerization, and distribution kinetics in healthy adults,” was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and is the most complete study of lycopene to date. In an effort that started a decade ago, the research team developed tomato plants that grow in suspension culture, with optimized production of lycopene molecules characterized by a heavier molecular weight. These molecules were “tagged” by incorporating non-radioactive carbon-13, heavier carbon atoms than the more common carbon-12, making the lycopene molecules easier to track. In this experiment, scientists studied the carbon-13 tagged lycopene in the blood of eight participants, with samples collected hourly for 10 hours after lycopene dosing, and again one, three, and 28 days later. Lycopene, the red carotenoid in tomatoes, has been associated with disease-preventing effects, and researchers wanted to study its metabolic activity in the human body. While this compound is mainly consumed as an all-trans isomer in foods, it exists in the more flexible cis isomer form in human plasma and tissues, the isoform thought by some to be responsible for reducing disease risk. So researchers developed a mathematical model to measure the concentr
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Margarida graduated with a BS in Health Sciences from the University of Lisbon and a MSc in Biotechnology from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-UL). She worked as a molecular biologist research associate at a Cambridge UK-based biotech company that discovers and develops therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibodies.

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