New functional ingredient for blood sugar regulation

Monday, 02 November, 2009

A team of Australian sugarcane scientists, funded by the Brisbane-based Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology (CRC SIIB), has identified natural glycaemic index (GI) modifiers that have the potential to lower blood sugar levels and help manage type 2 diabetes.

The discovery: ‘a family of compounds which occur naturally in sugarcane plants and act to moderate carbohydrate absorption in the blood stream’, can be found in abundance in sugarcane leaves and plant matter. In laboratory trials the compounds have been up to 125 times more effective than the major pharmaceutical equivalent.

Discovered by scientists based at the Southern Cross University, Lismore, the compounds have been broadly tested in the laboratory and recently developed as a substance named GI-Wise.

According to the CRC’s Commercialisation Manager, Dr Deon Goosen, GI-Wise could be used in the development of complementary medicines, as a functional food additive or nutraceutical, or as the basis of a new pharmaceutical drug.

“What’s more, the compounds needed to make GI-Wise are easy to extract from sugarcane plant material following the milling process and are readily available in Australia,” Dr Goosen said.

“Additionally, the sugarcane waste stream material remains intact in this process and available for further use as a source of power generation.

“The potential to add value to the Australian sugarcane industry is significant, as are business opportunities in downstream manufacturing,” he said.

This finding is also potentially a big advance in helping to curb what is becoming a major health concern.

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