Saturday, December 24, 2011

No. 390: Artificial synthesis of oleanolic acid (December 25, 2011)

A research team made of researchers from several universities successfully synthesized oleanolic acid artificially. Oleanolic acid is a major element that whitens the surface of a grape berry. It has the antiaging function besides being helpful to constrain the multiplication of cavity germs. On the market, there are lots of cosmetics that utilize the antibacterial effect and moisturizing action of oleanolic acid, but they have problems with high production cost because oleanolic acid is extracted from the roots and berries of plants. The research leader, Prof.Toshiya Muranaka of Osaka University, says, “Highly-pure oleanolic acid can be produced in volume by increasing the efficiency of the artificial synthesis, and it could be used for functional foods and pharmaceuticals.”

The research team found the gene associated with the synthesis of oleanolic aid in a legume plant and two similar genes in grape. Researchers combined them with other genes and brought them into action in an enzyme and a cell of an insect, and successfully oleanolic acid artificially. They succeeded in synthesizing ursocholic acid and betulic acid, both of which have the anticancer effect and anti-inflammatory effect, by changing the gene to be combined with the artificially synthesized oleanolic acid. The research results will be published in Plant and Cell Physiology that is the English journal of the Japanese Society of PlantPhysiologists

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