Speaking to the Salisbury Post in North Carolina, Dr Mary Ann Lila announced that the State University and Rutgers University scientists have figured out a way to extract and stabilize the natural substance, called anthocyanins, and sell it to food, healthcare and cosmetics companies.
"The thing that's so exciting about anthocyanins is that they almost seem too good to be true," said Lila, director of North Carolina State's Plants for Human Health Institute in Kannapolis.
And whilst Lila and her colleagues are in advanced negotiations with several companies around the world, on top of already having a licensed drink in Israel, she stated that in the US, “cosmetics will be our first hit”, with food products to follow.
High levels of antioxidant activity
Anthocyanins provide a wide range of health benefits, from preventing chronic disease to improving the appearance of skin.
They are compounds naturally found in red, purple and blue produce, and possess high levels of antioxidant activity and cause the dark colour of foods and plants, including flower petals and autumn leaves.
One particular anthocyanin from the black raspberry has been shown to inhibit promotion and progression of tumour cells by stalling growth of pre-malignant cells, accelerating the rate of cell turnover, effectively making the cancer cells die faster, and by reducing inflammatory mediators that initiate tumour onset.
So far, scientists have discovered nearly 300 different anthocyanins, with research suggesting they play active roles in protecting cells, healing the body and preventing disease, including premature aging.
The new ingredient could show up in a number of cosmetic applications including lotions and creams, as well as in a number of food types such as cereals and granola bars.
The ingredient has been patented by Rutgers and will be marketed and sold by Nutrasorb, a Rutgers spin-off headquartered in New Jersey with a subsidiary up and running at the N.C. Research Campus.
Lila currently represents Nutrasorb in Kannapolis and said that the manufacturing of some products, including cosmetics, could happen at the Research Campus.