Mining Health Treasures from Soybeans
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
May 3, 1999
Ben Hardin, (309) 681-6597, firstname.lastname@example.org
Agricultural Research Service scientists are combing through leftovers from
soybean oil and protein extraction, searching for components that might help
cancer-free people stay that way.
The idea is to add DNA-friendly compounds--termed chemoprotectants--to food
additives and pharmaceuticals. Some natural and synthetic chemicals cause
DNA disruptions that sometimes result in malignancies, but chemoprotectants
help protect against irreversible cell damage.
Soybeans and many other foods are already known to contain substances termed
antioxidants that can help prevent cell mutations. Some of these
antioxidative soy extracts, called isoflavones, are being marketed as food
additives. But ARS scientists at the National Center for Agricultural
Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., and their University of Illinois
colleagues at Champaign are prospecting for new chemoprotectants.
The soy leftovers comprise a gooey molasses that has been used as livestock
feed. Chemoprotectants isolated from these leftovers could become, pound for
pound, more valuable than the main processed soy products. A light brown
powder called phytochemical concentrate (PCC), isolated from the molasses,
contains a mixture of these potent materials.
In the research, university scientists expose cell cultures of Chinese
hamster lungs and ovaries to PCC components prepared by the ARS scientists.
Then they challenge the cells with a chemical known to induce tumors. Later,
they assess DNA breakage in the cells and identify the most protective PCCs.
In preliminary studies, mice fed certain PCC components seem to be protected
from some forms of cell damage. These components, not yet detailed in
scientific literature, include molecules that are much more antimutagenic
than flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants found in many foods.
The research, supported in part by the United Soybean Board, may serve as a
model for research on other foods.
An article about the research appears in the May issue of Agricultural
Research magazine and online at:
Scientific contacts: Mark A. Berhow and Steven F. Vaughn, ARS, National
Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309)
681-6595, fax (309) 681-6693, email@example.com (Berhow) and
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