Nutritional research is focusing on the effects of incorporating these healthier fatty acids, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), into animal and human diets. CLA is present in dairy products and meat from ruminants and in very low amounts in our bodies.
Health benefits of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
Dr Helen Roche, a senior lecturer in molecular nutrition in Trinity College Dublin, has been studying CLA and its biological properties for several years. "CLA seems to protect cells programmed to become diabetic against development of diabetes and it also prevents disease processes that lead to atherosclerosis, chronic inflammation and colon cancer," says Dr Roche.
Classified as a nutraceutical or nutritional supplement, CLA is thought to change the balance between fat cells and muscle cells in the body and is currently on sale in health shops as a supplement to help people improve their body tone.
"The problem is that commercially available supplements contain two forms of the compound known as isomers," explains Dr Paul Evans, a researcher with the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB). "Isomers are molecules that have the same molecular formula but the atoms are arranged differently in space. In the case of CLA one isomer known as cis-9-trans-11 CLA has beneficial effects but the other form, trans-10-cis-12 CLA, can be detrimental and could induce a diabetic state."
Discovering a selective way to synthesise the beneficial CLA isomer
Dr Evans and his group while working at the School of Chemistry in Trinity College Dublin discovered a way to selectively synthesise the beneficial cis-9-trans-11 CLA in large quantities.
During the CLA project the group also found a method for making trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), the precursor to CLA. Evidence suggests that TVA is converted into CLA by an enzyme in the bovine mammary gland and muscle and by a bacterial enzyme in the human intestine.
"Now that we have a supply of the beneficial form of CLA and TVA we can carry out nutritional studies to determine whether the health effects ascribed to CLA are due to the fatty acid alone or attributable to the metabolic conversion of TVA into CLA," says Dr Roche.
Studying the benefits of trans vaccenic acid (TVA) in livestock
Teagasc have also conducted studies to increase the concentration of CLA in livestock. In a feeding trial conducted in Moorepark they reported that in grazing situations where the levels of CLA were already high in milk fat, they could be increased further by supplementing pasture diets with full fat rapeseeds and soybeans, which are both good sources of unsaturated fatty acids.2
A Teagasc research group led by Dr Aidan Moloney in County Meath has now turned their attention to studying the conversion of TVA into CLA by livestock as this metabolic process may hold the key to explaining some of the benefits of CLA. The study aims to demonstrate the beneficial effects of CLA from beef as well as from chemically synthesised CLA.
"TVA is produced by cattle during digestion of unsaturated fatty acids. We are trying to increase TVA, and to understand how it is converted to CLA in muscle," explains Dr Moloney. "We want to investigate whether increasing TVA by manipulation of the diet of cattle will result in healthier animals and in turn produce higher quality meat and dairy products for the consumer."
The new synthetic methods have enabled the preparation of multi-gram quantities of these biologically important fatty acids.
"This collaborative approach paves the way for developing a pure nutraceutical which could be incorporated into our diet to help protect us against heart disease and diabetes," concludes Dr Evans.
Orla Donoghue | alfa
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research