Researchers say they can create grapefruit hybrid that won't interfere with medicine

Oct 20, 2011 by Mickie Anderson

(PhysOrg.com) -- For years, doctors and pharmacists have warned people to steer clear of fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice when taking certain medicines.

But University of Florida researchers now believe within the next few years, they’ll be able to release a grapefruit-pummelo hybrid that those who enjoy the zingy fruit can consume, without risking adverse side effects from their medicine.

The researchers’ findings are presented in the current issue of the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

“We have the possibility to develop new products that are going to be very similar to , and we won’t have these issues. And they can be used as a fresh fruit, or people can make juice from them, and all these folks who are on the medicines won’t have to worry about them,” said Fred Gmitter, a UF citrus breeder based at the university’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

In 1989, scientists doing a study on how alcohol consumption might interact with a prescription drug attempted to disguise the alcohol’s taste by mixing it with and discovered what is now commonly called the “grapefruit juice effect.”

In conjunction with some medicines, including those meant to lower cholesterol, the grapefruit can change how much of the drugs are absorbed in the patients’ bloodstream, intensifying therapeutic or side effects. A chemical naturally found in some vegetables and fruits called furanocoumarin has been identified as primarily responsible for the grapefruit juice effect.

The UF study began when Florida Department of Citrus research scientist Paul Cancalon, also based at the Lake Alfred center, asked Gmitter’s laboratory for samples of Florida-grown grapefruit to compare to grapefruit grown in other places around the world.

Cancalon noticed that the Florida-grown grapefruit demonstrated lower furanocoumarin content than grapefruit grown in other places, prompting Gmitter and Cancalon to begin checking more grapefruit and pummelo varieties, as well as hybrids, for furanocoumarin levels.

Eventually, Gmitter said, they found several hybrids with little to no furanocoumarins, including one seedless variety he believes will have wide appeal for consumers.

Besides Gmitter and Cancalon, the team included UF associate scientist Chunxian Chen and Carl Haun, a Florida Department of Citrus chemist.

Lisa House, a UF professor in food and resource economics who studies consumer preferences, led two focus groups in Atlanta in early 2011. One group was made up of grapefruit consumers; the other of non-consumers.

Although it’s difficult to draw big conclusions from a small group, she said, in general, both consumer groups liked the idea of a grapefruit hybrid that didn’t interfere with prescription drugs – more so after taste tests.

“Both groups saw it as a fruit to add to their diet, not just something to replace grapefruit,” she said.

Explore further: The origin of the language of life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Edible fungus foils dangerous grapefruit-drug interactions

Feb 02, 2009

Scientists in Florida report that adding an edible mushroom-like fungus to grapefruit juice may help to reduce the serious side effects that can occur when people taking certain prescription drugs drink grapefruit ...

Genetic origin of cultivated citrus determined

Jan 18, 2011

Citrus species are among the most important fruit trees in the world. Citrus has a long history of cultivation, often thought to be more than 4,000 years. Until now, however, the exact genetic origins of cultivated ...

Recommended for you

The origin of the language of life

23 hours ago

The genetic code is the universal language of life. It describes how information is encoded in the genetic material and is the same for all organisms from simple bacteria to animals to humans. However, the ...

Quest to unravel mysteries of our gene network

Dec 18, 2014

There are roughly 27,000 genes in the human body, all but a relative few of them connected through an intricate and complex network that plays a dominant role in shaping our physiological structure and functions.

EU court clears stem cell patenting

Dec 18, 2014

A human egg used to produce stem cells but unable to develop into a viable embryo can be patented, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.