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Optimised production and extraction techniques for consistent yield and quality of skin-protecting phytochemicals - LK0814

UK Cosmetic and Healthcare industry sales figures indicate that consumer demand is increasing for efficacious skin-care products based on plant-derived molecules greater than demand for those incorporating animal-based, synthetic or biotechnology-produced materials. Skin-protecting polysaccharides (PS) and UV-absorbing compounds (UVACS) are particularly important for this high value industry. Both marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) and Astragalus membranaceus roots produce PS and UVACS of interest to the industry for development of new, improved products. A prerequisite for product formulation via GMP is the consistent supply of traceable, high quality, efficacious raw materials, free from contaminants. Currently, these requirements cannot be met because of lack of availability and agronomic constraints. Definition of target compound structure is essential for optimised extraction and purification protocols; at present the structure of these target compounds are not well defined. The effect of composition, structural features and molecular properties on the efficacy of target compounds also requires better definition.

The project aim will be achieved by examining the hypotheses: ‘That skin-active PS and UVACS in roots of both species are present, their production is genetically controlled and environmentally modified. Such compounds may be exuded from roots; extraction of pure compounds from roots and root exudates is structure-dependent’.
5. Specific Objective(s) - Scientific:
1. To develop protocols for production of consistent, high yields of target compounds.
• To maximise yield of roots, root nodules (Astragalus), target compounds and root exudates
2. To characterise the structure of target compounds and develop protocols for rapid extraction and assay of target compounds from both species.
• To determine the structure of PS and UVACS in both species
• To develop rapid screening assays for target compounds
• To determine some of the constraints to extraction and purification of target compounds
3. To assess target compounds and product formulations for efficacy and suitability for commercial use

Specific Objective(s) - Technical (some linked to scientific objectives above):
1. To develop recommendations for commercial scale hydroponic production of both species for target compounds.
4. To develop protocols for extraction of target compounds from both species on a laboratory and pilot-scale.
• To extract exudates from hydroponic media and examine the potential for a two-step process for both groups of target compounds.
• To determine and trial commercial scale extraction protocols
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2006

Cost: £289,403
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Cornwall Dermatology Unit, ADAS UK Ltd., Critical Processes Limited, Lighthorne Associates, Boots Company PLC, The, University - Leeds, Humber VHB
Arable Farming              
Fields of Study
Non-Food Crops