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Effectiveness of lipid nanoparticles for free phytosterols in reducing cholesterol

Grant number: 18/22025-9
Support type:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: August 01, 2019 - July 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Food Science and Technology - Food Technology
Principal researcher:Valeria da Silva Santos
Grantee:Valeria da Silva Santos
Company:Cognita Soluções Tecnológicas Pesquisa Desenvolvimento Científico
CNAE: Fabricação de alimentos para animais
Fabricação de produtos alimentícios não especificados anteriormente
Pesquisa e desenvolvimento experimental em ciências físicas e naturais
City: Espírito Santo do Pinhal
Assoc. researchers: Mayanny Gomes da Silva
Associated scholarship(s):19/19374-4 - Effectiveness of lipid nanoparticles for free phytosterols in reducing cholesterol, BP.PIPE


Phytosterols are plant compounds with a very similar structure with cholesterol, thus the bioactivity of phytosterols lies in the reduction of cholesterol levels, through an absorption competition mechanism. Phytosterols act to reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol in humans, aiding in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. A daily consumption of 1.5-2.0 g of phytosterols is required to have a significant decrease in blood LDL cholesterol levels. This phytosterol amount is not reachable without medicaments or functional foods. However, phytosterols in the native form, called free phytosterols (FL), present high crystallinity, which makes difficult its direct applications in foods, especially in terms of the physical stability of the products, compromising texture and shelf life characteristics. The use of nanotechnology in foods shows promise to make possible the incorporation of FL for cholesterol reduction, a major public health problem. Through the association of functionality, food and technological innovation, the project has been designed to develop ingredients that can safely and effectively drive FL in food. In this way were used raw materials commonly present in our food and in the industrial scenario, edible oils, and fats, considered GRAS (Generally recognized as safe), in association with a green, sustainable and scalable technology. These ingredients are lipid nanoparticles responsible for the facilitated solubilization of FL. Preliminary tests performed showed that the production of this ingredient is possible and the FL loading has been confirmed. This information was used to obtain the patent (BR1020170064719), however, there are still scientific challenges to be overcome. Key points of this feasibility project are: (a) evaluation of the in vitro cytotoxicity of nanoparticles developed with vegetable oils and fats, and (b) evaluation of the efficacy of FL loading nanoparticles in reducing cholesterol, in vivo experiments. Without these evaluations, there is no viability of the product, since it is necessary to prove that the nanoparticles do not present any food safety risk, even if they are developed with conventional raw materials, and that FLs carried in nanoparticles are effective in reducing cholesterol. At this stage of the project, the production and characterization of the nanoparticles will be carried out by the company through partnerships with UNICAMP (holder of the patent) and contracting third party services. In vitro and in vivo experiments are expected to show that the nanoparticles do not present toxicity because they are developed with conventional raw materials and that the FLs in the nanoparticles act to reduce cholesterol effectively. In this way, the technological problem of application of FL will be overcome, aiming to add functionality to foods, provide the benefits to consumers, with the possibility of application in different foods. Once these results are confirmed, the next step in successfully marketing the nanoparticles becomes significantly high because of their unique value proposition. The company is a startup, to be set up, based on the commercialization of these ingredients for applications in the food industry. The technology is very flexible with a wide possibility of expansion in other sectors (animal nutrition, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics). In addition, its possible to protecting and carrying other functional compounds (vitamins, hormones, omega-3, etc.). (AU)

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