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Soursop, giving hope against cancer?

04 August 2014 Investigación y Desarrollo

Researcher finds chemotherapeutic properties in soursop pulp

The state of Nayarit, in Mexico, is one of the major producers of soursop (Annona muricata) at national and global level, but the fruit does not have great popularity among the population, resulting in a loss of more than 20 percent of its production. Therefore, researchers at the Tepic Institute of Technology (ITT) set out to use the pulp in applications different from consumption, analyzing it they found the presence of acetogenins, substances with chemotherapeutic properties.

During the decade of the 90s, it had been reported that the soursop contained anticancer compounds; however, most studies are mainly focused on the leaves, roots, seeds and shell, not considering the fruit. The ITT was given the task of studying the fruit’s pulp, fresh and stored frozen for a year, the first results show that the unprocessed and frozen pulp maintains the presence of compounds called acetogenins. With these data, researchers propose to contribute knowledge about the types of these compounds found and retain in derivate foods from the soursop.

The work of the Technological Institute of Tepic is in charge of Efigenia Montalvo Gonzalez, who was awarded the Coca-Cola award for Young Researchers in its 2013 edition, a biennial award given by the National Award in Science and Food Technology (PNCTA), organized by the CONACYT (National Council for Science and Technology) and Mexican Industry Coca-Cola for the last 38 years, as part of its commitment to develop support measures to promote the well-being of society.

About the research, Montalvo González mentions: "We are analyzing acetogenins in soursop pulp frozen for over a year in ice cream made with yogurt. We tested three methods of extraction in these food (sonication, microwave and leaching). The first conclusions are that the freezing and storage of the fruit does not affect the presence of acetogenins."

In a second stage of the investigation at the Technological Institute of Tepic, the acetogenins in juice and fruit nectar will be treated with ultrasound, then isolated and purified; after that researchers will structurally identify the types of acetogenins present in the cultures. The results will show whether or not the processing of foods derived from soursop affect anticancer compounds.

"The research also seeks to add value to the fruit so the least of it is wasted. We focus on acetogenins compounds because in Mexico, cancer is a disease that is increasing among the population and scientific research shows that the compounds found in this fruit can encapsulate tumors, but this depends on the how much is consumed".

Montalvo González indicates that once the results are obtained, the process could lead to the development of products derived from the soursop as ice cream, yogurt, juice or puree; food where it is established that the presence of acetogenins is maintained.

The National Science and Technology Award in Food annually recognizes students and researchers from across the country in search of technological, functional and nutritional development of domestic foodstuffs.

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