The University of Louisiana at Monroe said Katherine Gary was the first to isolate oleocanthal in olive oil with a 95 percent purity rate.

A research project at the University of Louisiana at Monroe looking at the natural compounds of olive oil has made remarkable progress in the field of cancer research.

Under the direction of professor of pharmacy Khalid El Sayed, Katherine Gary, a fourth-year student, has been recognized as the first person to isolate oleocanthal in olive oil with a 95 percent purity rate.

Oleocanthal is a naturally-occurring phenolic compound that has been linked with anti-inflammatory and other disease-fighting properties.

Oleocanthal was discovered after Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center likened the sharp taste of certain oils to anti-inflammatory medications. Together with scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, the researchers were able to isolate the phenol compound deacetoxydialdehydic ligstroside aglycone, and named it oleocanthal.

Scientists at UL-Monroe have been looking at oleocanthal as a c-Met inhibitor. According to El Sayed, “c-Met enhances cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis; reduces apoptosis; and changes cytoskeletal functions of many tumors.”

Katherine Gary and the research team at UL-Monroe hope to introduce an oleocanthal therapy in the form of a dietary supplement that will slow the effects of cancer and enhance the effects of chemotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs.

The experimental supplement has already proven effective during animal testing.

Gary has won two awards for her breakthrough in isolating oleocanthal. El Sayed’s team has reportedly received nearly $2 million to support the research.

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