Unlocking resveratrol – red wine’s heart health chemical
Will we ever access the heart-protecting abilities of red wine without having to drink a glass every day? [What is a day without red wine?!] We soon may be able to, thanks to the synthesis of chemicals derived from resveratrol, the molecule believed to give wine its protective powers. The chemicals have the potential to fight many diseases, including cancer.
Plants make a huge variety of chemicals, called polyphenols, from resveratrol to protect themselves against invaders, particularly fungi. But they only make tiny amounts of each chemical, making it extremely difficult for scientists to isolate and utilise them.
The unstable nature of resveratrol has also hindered attempts at building new compounds from the chemical itself.
Scott Snyder at Columbia University in New York and his team have found a way around this: building polyphenols from compounds that resemble, but are subtly different to, resveratrol. These differences make the process much easier. Using these alternative starting materials, they have made dozens of natural polyphenols, including vaticanol C, which is known to kill cancer cells.
“It’s like a recipe book for the whole resveratrol family,” says Snyder. “We’ve opened up a whole casket of nature’s goodies.”
Look up the research here: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature10197
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