Researchers at the University of Louisiana-Monroe have reported that a com­pound found in EVOO was effec­tive in pre­vent­ing can­cer and Alzheimer’s dis­ease in mice.

El study which focused on extract­ing and test­ing the effects of oleo­can­thal con­cluded that the com­pound has the poten­tial to become an effec­tive dietary sup­ple­ment for reduc­ing the risk of devel­op­ing breast can­cer and Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Khalid El Sayed, and Amal Kaddoumi, from the Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences Department of the ULM School of Pharmacy have worked on their project, “Novel extra-vir­gin olive oil-based func­tional food for can­cer and Alzheimer’s dis­ease pre­ven­tion” since 2009. El Sayed told Olive Oil Times, “Generally, we rec­om­mend the con­sump­tion of EVOO to replace any other oils based on the health ben­e­fits observed.”

Based on the find­ings of the study, El Sayed said he believes that con­sum­ing EVOO as part of a reg­u­lar diet could offer some pro­tec­tion against devel­op­ing can­cer and Alzheimer’s. “There are already sev­eral epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies that sug­gest less inci­dence of cog­ni­tive dis­eases and can­cer patients in the Mediterranean pop­u­la­tion, com­pared to other European and American coun­ter­parts, mainly due to con­sump­tion of EVOO as key diet com­po­nent. Kaddoumi’s pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies on EVOO fur­ther sup­port this notion.”

El Sayed, who led the extrac­tion and can­cer direc­tion part of the project told Olive Oil Times, “We puri­fied and tested all other EVOO phe­no­lic ingre­di­ents, sep­a­rate and in com­bi­na­tion and found oleo­can­thal to be the star of these com­pounds.” He added, “After look­ing at the chem­i­cal struc­ture of oleo­can­thal we decided to iso­late this com­pound and use it for our research. We are using sev­eral strate­gies to val­i­date and max­i­mize the ben­e­fits of oleo­can­thal and its activ­i­ties.”

The study con­cluded that oleo­can­thal admin­is­tered as a pure entity was effec­tive. The focus has now turned to devel­op­ing a new for­mu­la­tion for tri­al­ing as a dietary sup­ple­ment. “Even direct con­sump­tion of pungent/​bitter EVOO (which cor­re­late with oleo­can­thal con­tent) would be rec­om­mended at this stage.”

Commercially avail­able EVOO brands were used in the study. Some batches proved bet­ter than oth­ers, based on oleo­can­thal con­tents, which ranged from 30 mg to 1,200 mg of oleo­can­thal per /​Kg oil. “The activ­ity is exclu­sive to EVOO and not the refined olive oil, since refin­ing is elim­i­nat­ing all oil phe­no­lic ingre­di­ents,” El Sayed said. The team col­lab­o­rated with Florida Olive Systems where they found good oleo­can­thal con­tents in some of their olive tree vari­eties.

Based on the study in mice, the ear­lier the sup­ple­ment was taken the more effec­tive it was at pre­vent­ing can­cer and Alzheimer’s dis­ease. “So far based on our ani­mal mod­els, the pre­ven­tive mode was much more effec­tive than treat­ment mode,” El Sayed pointed out.

El Sayed and Kaddoumi have Mediterranean roots and a per­sonal inter­est in olive oil ben­e­fits. El Sayed said a mag­a­zine arti­cle report­ing the ben­e­fi­cial effect of oleo­can­thal in EVOO on amy­loid (the hall­mark of Alzheimer’s dis­ease) had sparked their chemist’s instinct and resulted in their deci­sion to iso­late and study the com­pound.

Kaddoumi and El Sayed recently part­nered with James Cardelli, owner of Segue Therapeutics. Cardelli has pledged $22,500 in fund­ing for the project. The team was also granted a $225,000 award from Louisiana Board of Regents Industry Ties Research Subprogram. This accom­plish­ment will help to fund a fur­ther three years of research.

The funds will be used for devel­op­ing, test­ing and pro­mot­ing their olive oil-based pre­ven­ta­tive med­i­cine, food sup­ple­ment.

The dietary sup­ple­ment could take the form of an instant dry pow­der drink or cap­sule depend­ing on suc­cess in the for­mu­la­tion and on the appli­ca­tion. “We will do our best to use cur­rent FDA-approved food addi­tives and excip­i­ents. We will also give pref­er­ence to nat­ural ingre­di­ents for eas­ier future food use,” said El Sayed.

No side effects were observed in mice given oleo­can­thal in doses of up to 10 mg/​kg.



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