UMass Dartmouth Chemistry/Biochemistry Professor Catherine Neto is presenting on her latest research this week at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC). Dr. Neto’s latest research has found that feeding cranberry extracts to mice with colon cancer resulted in diminished size and number of tumors. Identifying the therapeutic molecules in the Commonwealth’s official berry could lead to a better understanding of its anti-cancer potential.
According to the American Cancer Society, one in 20 Americans will develop colon cancer at some point in his or her lifetime. While progress has been made on the detection and treatment of colon cancer, it remains the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
Professor Neto’s research team generated three powdered cranberry extracts: a whole fruit powder, an extract containing only the cranberry polyphenols, and one containing only the non-polyphenol components of the fruit. The team mixed the cranberry extracts into the meals of mice with colon cancer. After 20 weeks, the mice given the whole cranberry extract had about half the number of tumors as mice that received no cranberry in their chow. The remaining tumors in the cranberry-fed mice were also smaller. In addition, the cranberry extracts seemed to reduce the levels of inflammation markers in the mice. The next step for Professor Neto is looking deeper into the cranberry to see if she can isolate individual components responsible for its anti-cancer properties.
Established at UMass Dartmouth, the UMass Cranberry Health Research Center fosters collaborations among academic institutions, medical institutions, and industry to provide solid scientific evidence for the cranberry's role in health and nutrition. Its membership encompasses researchers from all five UMass campuses as well as from other academic institutions, hospitals, and private laboratories throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Center received a $110,000 UMass President’s Science and Technology Initiative grant in 2011 to establish the Center.
Support for the center's research initiatives underscores the importance of cranberry production in Massachusetts. Cranberry fruit and products are
one of the state's chief exports and play a significant role in the economy of southeastern Massachusetts. In 2013, Massachusetts harvested more than 2.1 million barrels of cranberries valued at more than $99.8 million, and the state ranks second in U.S. cranberry production.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.
Editor's Note: Video above offers information on the undergraduate research opportunities through Dr. Neto's lab and the importance of a research community at UMass Dartmouth.