Phytochemicals: BevuTI-I A Protease Inhibitor Extracted From Beetroot Identified As Potential Drug For Treating Neurodegenerative And Inflammatory Diseases
: Austrian researchers from University of Vienna's Institute of Pharmacology have isolated a peptide (a small protein molecule) from beetroot that is able to inhibit a particular enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of messenger molecules in the body. As a result its protease inhibitor properties and its stable molecular structure along with its pharmacological properties, the beetroot peptide may be a good candidate for development of a drug to treat certain inflammatory diseases, such as neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases.
The study findings were published in the peer- reviewed journal: ACS (The Journal of the American Chemical Society)
The phytochemical occurs in the roots of beetroot plants (Beta vulgaris) and belongs to a group of molecules that plants use inter alia as a chemical defense against pests such as bacteria, viruses or insects.
Corresponding author Dr Christian W. Gruber Center for Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna told Thailand Medical News, "By analyzing thousands of genomic data points, our team was able to define a number of new cysteine-rich peptides and assign them phylogenetically in the plant kingdom. In this process, our attention was drawn to a possible function as so-called protease inhibitors. The beetroot peptide can therefore inhibit enzymes that digest proteins."
BevuTI-I, the beetroot peptide specifically inhibits prolyl oligopeptidase (POP), which is involved in the breakdown of protein hormones in the body and is therefore able to regulate inflammatory reactions. POP is a much-discussed drug target for neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases, such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis, for example.
Dr Gruber added, "This means that, in future studies, this group of plant peptides called knottins, such as those found in beetroot, could potentially provide a drug candidate for treating these diseases."
The peptide can be detected in commercial beetroot juice. The peptide not only occurs in the root vegetables, but can also be detected in commercially available beetroot juice albeit in very low concentrations.
The study team said, "Although beetroot counts as a very healthy vegetable, it would be unreasonable to hope that dementia could be prevented by regular consumption of beetroot. The peptide only occurs in very small quantities and it is not clear whether it can as such be absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract."
The new research work being conducted by Dr Gruber's laboratory develops bio-inspired drug candidates.
Dr Gruber explained "We are searching through large databases containing genetic information of plants and animals, decoding new types of peptide molecules and studying their structure, aiming to test them pharmacologically on enzymes or cellular receptors (such as one of the prominent drug target classes, the so-called G protein-coupled receptors) and finally analyzing them in the disease models."
Most potential d
rug candidates are chemically synthesized in a slightly modified form based on the natural product in order to obtain optimized pharmacological properties.
This approach appears to be successful, a few years ago, the same study team generated a drug candidate T20K for MS with a synthesized plant peptide (cyclotide), which has recently been tested successfully in a Phase 1 trial by the Swedish firm Cyxone under a MedUni Vienna license, and is now being prepared for a Phase 2 clinical trial.
Thailand Medical News is also exploring using the phytochemical BevuTI-I, in a blend of herbal teas to help with the Post-COVID health complications such as neurological issues, cognitive deficits and inflammatory issues along with another phytochemical called Apigenin.
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