Gastrointestinal disorders are responsible for around one million deaths a year across Europe and are associated with substantial morbidity and health costs. In response to this problem of important implications for health and economics, the Biobased and Biomedical Products group of CBQF/ESB/UCP and the Glycobiology in Cancer of IPATIMUP/I3S established their first collaborative work through the project "GASTROCURE - Bioactive extracts of soybeans and cruciferous vegetables for application in gastrointestinal disorders: development, characterization and release" (no. 032094). This project has been structured in an interdisciplinary work that will provide a new approach to the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases (gastritis, peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infection, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer), from the development of new sustainable methods to obtain natural and abundant compounds from agri-food by-products, easily accessible to the European and global population, to their application of controlled release.
The main responsible for the project - Ezequiel Coscueta (CBQF/ESB/UCP researcher), Manuela Pintado (leader of the Biobased and Biomedical Products group and director of CBQF/ESB/UCP), and Celso Reis (leader of the Glycobiology in Cancer group at IPATIMUP/I3S) - highlight that there are several benefits at European level, taking into account the scientific excellence and competitiveness of the European Union, arising from GASTROCURE. The main ones are: (i) the increase in scientific excellence in the European Union in the search for safe and effective natural methods for the prevention of gastrointestinal disorders; (ii) the development of new food/nutraceutical ingredients with health-beneficial properties; and (iii) competitiveness by the possibility of generating intellectual property.
As a result of the project, the first scientific paper entitled "Phenylethyl Isothiocyanate Extracted from Watercress By-Products with Aqueous Micellar Systems: Development and Optimisation" was published. Ezequiel Coscueta states that "the paper explains the development of an innovative, cost-effective and low-impact environmental process for obtaining extracts of phenylethyl isothiocyalate (a compound reported as an important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive) from by-products of the watercress produced by the company Vitacress Portugal SA, which pleasantly collaborates with our work".