Phenolic compounds in grapes have demonstrated benefits in cardiovascular protection.
Bioprospecting drives the search for foods with proven health benefits
Once identified and scientifically substantiated, we can determine if increasing the intake of particular foods and supplements can reduce the burden of chronic diseases.
31 May 2005 | Updated 15 October 2012
The Preventative Health Flagship has developed a range of technologies for the breaking down of food into its individual parts (food fractionating) and testing it (in vitro screening assays).
The assays are used to produce and identify novel elements within food with the ability to interact with living tissue or a system, such as a human being or other living organism (bioactives) and prove their health benefits.
Bioprospecting is the search for new chemicals in living things that will have a medical or commercial use. Our bioprospecting project involves four integrated activities:
- production of a series of food-derived bioactive product libraries
- screening for bio-activity using strategic high-throughput (HTP) assays
- animal safety clinical efficacy trials of lead products; and
- commercial process development.
Current primary screening, or in vitro, tests are used to screen risk-factors and biomarkers such as:
- cholesterol production
- uptake and blood pressure for coronary heart disease
- colorectal cancer
- inflammatory diseases.
Food fractions with identified bioactives that have proven health benefits, will be available to be incorporated into protective foods, nutraceuticals and supplements.
The aim is to identify and quantify particular bioactives in foods that offer proven health benefits.
These can then be consumed as a preventative strategy against the development of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Why is CSIRO in bioprospecting?
CSIRO is uniquely placed to conduct a comprehensive research and development program in this area, which will lead to the ability to produce foods with added health benefits for the Australian population.
Our expertise ranges from the initial application of advanced food fractionation technology, to discovery of a food-lead bioactives through in vitro primary screening.
Why is this research important?
We are working to identify a range of additional health benefits in foods.
Once identified and scientifically substantiated, we can determine if increasing the intake of particular foods and supplements (enriched with specific bioactives) may reduce the burden of chronic diseases.
In addition, CSIRO has a range of assays spread across the organisation.
We believe the potential exists for these to be integrated across all divisions. This would provide a comprehensive screening activity, within and beyond the Preventative Health Flagship.
The wider program complements the Food Futures Flagship activities that are focussed on the commercial production of bioactives and adding value to Australian agribusiness.
About the researcher
This research program is being led by Dr Louise Bennett who is based at CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, Victoria.
Read more about the CSIRO's work in Food and Agriculture.