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Wild Blueberry Project

Task B-1 Research into bioactives of blueberry fractions
Task B-2 Chemical Profiling
Task B-3 Health Functionality with regard to stroke and other conditions
Task B-4 Pharmacokinetics
Task B-5 Pre-harvest technologies
Task B-6 Extraction and product development
The Wild Blueberry Research Team

The goal of the Blueberry Research Project is to advance understanding, establish evidence, and develop intellectual property and commercial products and services related to the health-protective and disease-prevention properties of wild blueberries and wild blueberry fractions.

In order to carry out this work, our researchers will face a number of challenges:

  • marketing of bioactive-enriched blueberWild Blueberryries is low-risk and requires no regulatory approval;
  • the development of new cultural management technologies for blueberry agronomy has few challenges since commercial production techniques for wild blueberries have been refined over the past two decades;
  • research and development of new nutraceutical products requires regulatory approval and entails substantial technical risks;
  • the demonstration of health-promoting activity of specific blueberry fractions in animal systems has not been done before;
  • the extraction of pure bioactive fractions of blueberries in large commercial quantities for establishment of their efficacy and safety against chronic conditions (such as stroke) has not yet been done;
  • groundbreaking work will be required to develop these compounds into commercially viable nutraceutical products;
  • the continuing growth in demand for functional foods and nutraceuticals has fostered a highly competitive and rapidly evolving research and development environment, with increasing involvement of large pharmaceutical firms; at the same time, the regulatory environment is becoming increasingly stringent, increasing the time and resources required to bring a product to market.

Our researchers will undertake a number of measures to mitigate risk, such as:

  • creating a project team with multidisciplinary expertise;
  • applying established procedures for extraction and testing from other bioresources;
  • identifying project milestones to evaluate appropriate next steps depending on successive outcomes;
  • undertaking project planning and management techniques to be used by the research teams to ensure that the research remains market-driven, yet is guided by scientific hypotheses, to enhance the chances of satisfactory intellectual property development;
  • defining commercialization process;
  • acquiring new incremental funding for market research to guide product development and develop marketing plans;
  • creating sub-agreements with PEI Food Technology Centre and private-sector nutraceutical companies, which will provide access to state-of-the-art facilities and expertise in nutraceutical product development.

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The Wild Blueberry Research Team will perform the following (B) tasks:
 

Task B-1
Research into bioactives of blueberry fractions

Objective:

    to use bioassay and microarray methodologies to investigate health-protective and disease-preventing bioactives (antioxidant, cardio-protection, chemo- prevention, anti-inflammatory, gene expression) of blueberry fractions in order to guide product development and establish evidence in support of health claims.

Methodology:

  • over the duration of the project, W. Kalt (AAFC-Kentville) will provide blueberry extract and specific fractions for in vitro bioassays, and, where warranted, quantities of extracts and fractions sufficient for animal feeding studies;
  • over the duration of the project, M. Sweeney-Nixon (UPEI) and W. Kalt (AAFC-Kentville) will use bioassay methodologies to investigate bioactivities of blueberry fractions (antioxidant, cardio-protection, chemo-prevention, anti-inflammatory) and to compare the bioactivities of selected fractions with the whole product. The research will evaluate the effect of polyphenol fractions (containing bioactive compounds) using in vitro bioassays;
  • M. Sweeney-Nixon (UPEI) will undertake the following:
    • Neuronal cultures: cell death after simulated stroke and oxidative stress, anti-inflammatory capacity ( NO release, NOS and COX activity);
    •   Cancerous cell lines: proliferation, apoptosis, COX and ODC expression;
    •   Cell-based antioxidant capacity assays (DNA nicking, DCF) and anti-inflammatory capacity assays ( COX, TNF);
  • W. Kalt (AAFC- Kentville) will undertake the following:
    •   Antioxidant assays for the entire project: ORAC, DNA                                          nicking, LDL oxidation;
  • C. Nelson (UPEI) will use high-throughput rapid screening microarray technologies to investigate the effect of bioactive blueberry fractions on genes and to investigate selected mechanisms of action of blueberry bioactives in disease prevention, according to thWild Buleberrye following schedule:
    • Year 1: methods will be established for the microarrays to be used;
    • Year 2: effect of dietary supplementation with blueberry bioactive extract on gene expression, and on inflammatory genes and proteins, will be evaluated;
    • Years 3 through 5: research will elaborate on the findings related to the genes identified as being affected by blueberry feeding.

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Task B-2
Chemical Profiling

Objective:

    to carry out chemical characterization of bioactive blueberry fractions for monograph preparation, a prerequisite for labelling and regulatory approval of blueberry-based biopharmaceutical products.

Methodology:

  • W. Kalt (AAFC-Kentville) will investigate blueberry polyphenols:
    • Year 1 and 2: Polyphenol mixtures (free of other fruit components) and A.CN and PAC fractions will be isolated from blueberries and purified for in vitro and selected in vitro health functional studies. General analytical techniques will be used to chemically characterize bioactive blueberry polyphenols;
    • Years 1 through 5: once bioactive fractions are identified, methods will be developed fro their large-scale isolation;
  • S. MacKinnon (NRC-IMB) will address blueberry A.CN and PAC fractions:
    • Years 2 through 4: chemically characterize and quantify the A.CN and PAC fractions of blueberries;
    • isolate and elucidate the structure of novel bioactive compounds in blueberry fractions that have health-promotional activity.

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Task B-3
Health Functionality with regard to stroke and other conditions

Objective:

    to assess the beneficial effects against stroke damage and other health conditions to animals receiving diets containing blueberry fractions that are deemed highly bioactive based on in vitro results. Findings, if positive, can be used to support health claims for blueberries

Methodology:

  • M. Sweeney-Nixon (UPEI) will determine bioactivities of blueberry fractions against stroke and blood pressure in rats;
  • K. Gottschall-Pass (UPEI) will determine bioactivities of blueberry fractions against other health conditions in rats;

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Task B-4
Pharmacokinetics

Objective:

    to investigate the pharmacokinetics (effects on antioxidant status, bioavailability, distribution, and safety) of bioactive ingredients in wild blueberries, in order to support health claims and product development.

Methodology:

  • S. MacKinnon (NRC-IMB) will assess the antioxidant status of rats on diets containing blueberries, through analysis of urine and tissues. The findings are intended to support health claims and product development.
    • Year 1: analytical methods will be developed for the research;
    • Years 2 through 4: tissue and fluid samples from the rats used in Tasks B-1 and B-3 will be analyzed;
  • K. Gottschall-Pass (UPEI) will investigate the distribution and safety of blueberry polyphenols:
    • Year 1: analytical methods will be established;
    • Year 2: absorption and distribution of single doses by rats will be investigated;
    • Years 3 and 4: absorption and distribution of chronic ingestion of blueberry polyphenols will be assessed;
    • Year 5: based on the results of  the work performed in Years 1 through 4, the toxicity of blueberry polyphenols will be evaluated;
    • W. Kalt (AAFC-Kentville) will investigate the factors influencing the bioavailability of blueberry anthocyanins, using both in vitro and in vivo approaches.

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Task B-5
Pre-harvest technologies

Objective:

    to investigate which production conditions and approaches maximize the content of potentially health-functional blueberry bioactive compounds.

Methodology:

  • D. Percival (NSAC) will conduct the following activities:
    • Years 1 and 2: impact of berry growth and developmental stage on polyphenolic expression, development and antioxidant potential will be evaluated;
    • Years 1 through 3: various cultural management techniques to enhance polyphenolic content will be assessed. The impact of nutrient management, including soil and foliar-applied phosphorous and potassium, will be investigated. The effect of plant growth regulators, including ethylene inhibitors and various fatty acid and alcohol compounds, will be studied;
    • Years 2 through 5: the impact of organic blueberry production on polyphenolic content will be examined.

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Task B-6
Extraction and product development

Objective:

    to investigate processing and extraction technologies that maximize the level of stability of bioactive compounds, and to carry out product development arising from the research tasks undertaken in the project. Priority will be placed on Task B-1 in the early years of the project, shifting to increased emphasis on product development as the project proceeds.

Methodology:

  • J. Smith (FTC) will conduct the following activities:
    • various extraction technologies for blueberry bioactive compounds and for selected valuable fractions of bioactive compounds will be evaluated, and findings will be used to guide development of new processing technologies;
    • Years 1 and 2: the composition of blueberry by-products will be characterized. The findings will be used to guide development of new technologies and products for the functional food/nutraceutical markets during the remainder of the project.

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Wild Blueberry Research Team

Dr. Marva Sweeney- Nixon, Team Lead, University of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
Dr. Wilhelmina Kalt, Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada ( Kentville)
Dr.  David Percival, Nova Scotia Agricultural College (Truro)
Dr. Carolanne Nelson, UPEI (Charlottetown)
Dr. Kathy Gottschall- Pass, UPEI ( Charlottetown)
Dr. Shawna MacKinnon, National Research Council ( IMB-Halifax)
Dr. Jim Smith, Food Technology Centre (PEI)

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Atlantic Canada Network on Bioactive Compounds
Phyllis Duffy, Room 430, Duffy Building
University of Prince Edward Island
550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE Canada C1A 4P3
(902) 566-6001 telephone
(902) 566-6021 fax
pduffy@upei.ca

 

 

 

This page was last updated on Tuesday, June 13, 2006.

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