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Blue fraction from annatto (Bixa orellana L.) seed


Annatto (Bixa orellana L.) seeds are known mainly for the production of one of the most important natural dyes for the food industry. However, they have always been used in traditional medicine as anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, antibiotic, expectorant, antifebrile, etc. These properties can be explained by the recent discoveries of substances with pharmacological activity in these grains. Substances such as geranilgeraniol, a diterpene used successfully in the prophylaxis of various types of cancer and tocotrienols, natural forms of vitamin E with intense antioxidant activity, are already extracted from these grains and marketed by the pharmaceutical industry. In a recent study, where we sought to establish technology for separation of geranilgeraniol and tocotrienols from annatto grains, we encountered a large amount of a fraction with a strong blue hue. Preliminary analysis has been found to be azulene derivatives whose presence has not yet been reported in annatto seeds. This project aims to develop technology for adequate separation of this group of substances with similar characteristics, their characterization and evaluation of their pharmaceutical properties. (AU)

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