Breakthrough could lead to healthier clear beverages, new cancer treatments

March 6, 2012 By Kevin Hattori

Using a natural milk protein called casein, Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) researchers have created nanocapsules so tiny that they solve the longstanding problem of how to add nutrients to clear beverages without clouding or effects on taste or appearance.
According to lead researcher Dr. Yoav Livney of the Technion Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, the team combined casein with starchy maltodextrin to create the nanocapsules, which because of their small size do not scatter light.  As a result, they can be filled with vitamins or anything else, and added to liquids without turning them cloudy.

“These nanocapsules,” Dr. Livney explains, “are mainly advantageous for clear-beverage enrichment, such as water, sports drinks, beer, hot or iced tea.” But their protective properties, he adds, would also mean they could be used for a wide range of foods and drinks – as well as a new generation of disease-fighting pharmaceuticals.
Experimenting with Vitamin D and EGCG, a disease-inhibiting component of green tea, the researchers also showed the nanocapsules could greatly extend the shelf life and protect the potency of vitamins and nutraceuticals from heat and cold. And this extra protection stays intact amid the harsh acids of the human stomach, allowing more vital substances to reach their desired target, the small intestine.
Dr. Livney and his team are now using the technology to develop target-oriented drug delivery, either oral or through the bloodstream, to identify and destroy cancer cells.
The findings were published in the journal Food & Function.

Explore further: Nanometer-scale layers between materials have both solid and liquid characteristics

Related Stories

Microwaves to improve drug delivery

August 18, 2011

A team of Swinburne researchers has shown that low-temperature microwaves can be used to open up pores in bacterial cells, which could lead to significant improvements in the design of drug delivery systems.

Recommended for you

Self-powered e-watch is powered completely by wrist movements

November 23, 2015

(—Researchers have created a self-powered electronic watch that harvests energy from the wearer's wrist movements for continuous operation. By combining two different energy conversion mechanisms (electromagnetic ...

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...


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.