Republic of Poland

”Preludium” grant for research on vitelotte potatoes

13 December 2017

Paulina Strugała from the Department of Physics and Biophysics received a National Science Centre’s ”Preludium 13” grant for research on health-promoting properties of colored variety potatoes. They can have an anticancerous effect, among others.

Paulina Strugała is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Biophysics at the Faculty of Life Sciences and Technology, and this month she’s probably going to get a doctoral degree in biotechnology. For the project called ”Biological activity of acylated anthocyanins and their interaction with mimetic lipid membrane and human albumin” she received 179,000 PLN. Most of the funding wil be spent on laboratory materials and reagents, but some of the money has been set aside for trips and scientific conferences which might bring on new contacts and cooperation in future projects.

– My success, that is receiving funding for my research, is credited to my thesis supervisor and mentor – prof. Janina Gabrielska, who inspired me with a very interesting subject matter and who helped me plan the research – admits Paulina Strugała and adds: – I hope I will defend my doctoral dissertation by the end of December, so that I conduct my research as a doctor. The grant’s subject matter is close to what I used to handle until now, and I was researching biological activity of different fruit’ extracts, for example dog rose, hawthorn, chokeberry or blackcurrant.

Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, WUELS, Paulina Strugała
fot. Tomasz Lewandowski

As part of ”Preludium” project Paulina Strugała is going to focus on potatoes, namely on vitelottes. Vegetables and fruit, because of their high phenolic compounds content, are a rich source of substances with a beneficial effect on our bodies. One of the most often consumed vegetables is potato, it’s a diet base in many countries. While in Poland we eat a lot of potatoes, not many people eat vitelottes. They’re definitely underrated – says Strugała. – Vitelottes have high level of anthocyanins (that is natural pigments with health-promoting properties) in acylated forms that are a new object of research compared to non-acylated anthocyanins which are found mainly in berries. They’re also more resistant to high temperatures, for example.

At the beginning of her research Paulina Strugała is going to cooperate with prof. Alicja Kucharska and dr hab. Anna Sokół-Łętowska from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Science. – We’re going to check the molecular composition of the substance acquired from a vitelotte, next we’ll evaluate its potentially beneficial properties on our bodies – whether it’s good at neutralizing free radicals harmful for organisms in the conditions of the so called oxidative stress, whether it exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer capabilities. The latter we’re going to research along with cancer drugs – explains the doctoral student, hoping that the research will explain whether simultaneous use of acylated anthocyanins and drugs used to cure cancer and whether it will be possible to lower the drugs’ dosage  and to neutralize, at least partially, the toxic results of chemotherapeutic agents. This is where the cooperation with the team of prof. Maciej Ugorski from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will be necessary. Also, for the first time, metabolites (products of metabolism) of acylated anthocyanins are going to be identified, and the potential mechanism of the way those compounds run through the intestine wall explained.

Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, WUELS,
fot. Wikimedia

– Another, but also an important part of the project, is going to be to find out what the interaction mechanism between acylated anthocyanins and biomolecules is. What I mean here is the interaction mechanism with lipid membranes and main blood plasma protein – human albumin –  in in vitro conditions. The research we’ve conducted shows that natural phenolic compounds interacting with membranes change their properties and help protect them from oxidants. The research conducted using different experimental methods will provide us with info on the way anthocyanins modulate both the physical-chemical membranes’ properties and on the possible way of transporting those substances by albumin around the organism – explains Strugała.

The project is going take three years and it’ll be very important for the basic research explaining the possible beneficial effects of acylated anthocyanins on the human body, but also for the further application medical research  – in drugs or substances supporting the treatment and in food. The team, to be led by Paulina Strugała, is hoping to put forward arguments for introducing colored variety potatoes into the diet that will show a stronger antioxidant effect than the commonly used white and yellow potatoes. In turn, they’ll be much more beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases or cancer.