Published on March 20, 2013 at 2:01 PM
If the work in animal models applies to humans, said Fogelman, who is also the Castera Professor of Medicine at UCLA, consuming forms of genetically modified foods that contain apoA-1-related peptides could potentially help improve these conditions.
The peptide would be considered a drug if given by injection or in a purified pill form, but when it is a part of the fruit of a plant, it may be no different from a safety standpoint than the food in which it is contained - and it may be better tolerated than a drug, Fogelman said. He noted that one possibility could be the development of the peptide into a nutritional supplement.
The current study and findings resulted from years of detective work in searching for an apoA-1 peptide that could be practically produced. Peptides prior to the current 6F version have required additions that can only be made by chemical synthesis. The 6F peptide does not require these additions and can therefore be produced by genetically engineering plants.
The team chose a fruit - the tomato - that could be eaten without requiring cooking that might break down the peptide. The researchers were able to successfully genetically express the peptide in tomato plants, and the ripened fruit was then freeze-dried and ground into powder for use in the study.
"This is one of the first examples in translational research using an edible plant as a delivery vehicle for a new approach to cholesterol," said Judith Gasson, a professor of medicine and biological chemistry, director of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior associate dean for research at the Geffen School of Medicine. "We will be closely watching this novel research to see if these early studies lead to human trials."
In addition, Gasson noted that this early finding and future studies may yield important and fundamental knowledge about the role of the intestine in diet-induced inflammation and atherosclerosis.
Source: University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences