`Potential for Parkinson’s Treatment from Olive Oil Waste - Olive Oil Times

Potential for Parkinson’s Treatment from Olive Oil Waste

By Naomi Tupper
May. 24, 2012 09:55 UTC

Olive pomace (Photo: Jason Malinowski)

Olive pomace, the olive oil byprod­uct known in Spain as alpe­rujo, has recently been used to syn­the­size pow­er­ful antiox­i­dant mol­e­cules with a poten­tial appli­ca­tion in the treat­ment of Parkinson’s dis­ease.

Researchers from the Universities of Seville and Malaga in com­bi­na­tion with The Institute of Science Technology, Food and Nutrition and experts from the National Research Council (CSIC) have stud­ied the prepa­ra­tion of potent antiox­i­dants, nitro­cat­e­chols, from hydrox­y­ty­rosol found in alpe­rujo. The inves­ti­ga­tion focused specif­i­cally on the use of such prod­ucts in func­tional foods and in the sec­ondary appli­ca­tion of Parkinson’s treat­ment.

Hydroxytyrosol is found nat­u­rally in olive trees in the form of the com­plex mol­e­cule oleu­ropein. However, dur­ing the oil extrac­tion process, the major­ity passes into waste prod­ucts, with only about one per­cent remain­ing in the olive oil. Although only present in minute quan­ti­ties, this small amount is enough to pre­serve olive oil in stor­age for up to a year, illus­trat­ing the potent antiox­i­dant effect of the sub­stance.

More than four mil­lion tons of alpe­rujo are pro­duced annu­ally in Andalusia, pro­vid­ing a huge poten­tal source for these antiox­i­dant mol­e­cules. However, the extrac­tion process is com­pli­cated and needs fur­ther refine­ment to pin­point the spe­cific mol­e­cules required for the use in Parkinson’s treat­ment. Currently, there are treat­ments for Parkinson’s dis­ease using nitro­cat­e­chols as inhibitors of an enzyme involved in the metab­o­lism of dopamine, the defi­ciency of which causes Parkinson’s.

The process used to extract nitro­cate­coles is com­plex, and involves stages car­ried out by var­i­ous teams in the par­tic­i­pat­ing organ­i­sa­tions. A purifi­ca­tion process patented by the Institute of Fats is used to ren­der hydrox­y­ty­rosol found in the alpe­rujo fat sol­u­ble. This is then passed on to the Department of Organic Chemistry and Pharmacy and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Seville for extrac­tion of nitro­cat­e­chols.

These are then passed on to the Institute of Science and Technology, Food and Nutrition, where their bio­log­i­cal activ­ity and poten­tial for appli­ca­tion in func­tional foods is stud­ied. They are also returned to the Institute of fat, where they are added to var­i­ous oils and their activ­ity is com­pared with that of other antiox­i­dants. The University of Malaga also receives these processed com­pounds and is respon­si­ble for the eval­u­a­tion of the car­dio-pro­tec­tive and neuro-pro­tec­tive effects of the antiox­i­dants.

Although this research shows poten­tial and the inhibitory effect of nitro­cat­e­chols can be demon­strated and backed by a num­ber of stud­ies, a huge num­ber of fur­ther phar­ma­co­log­i­cal and clin­i­cal stud­ies would be required before any new drug could be released to the mar­ket. Therefore the use of this com­pound ther­a­peu­ti­cally is not likely to hap­pen in the very near future.


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