Nathan Skolski

Email: nathanskolski@okmain.cms.ok.ubc.ca


 

Study shows TEMPO is up to 100 times more powerful than vitamin E

Naturally-derived anti-oxidants have become the ‘it’ health ingredient to look for in food. But researchers from UBC Okanagan and the University of Bologna have discovered that TEMPO—a well-known artificial anti-oxidant—is up to 100 times more powerful than nature’s best and could help counteract everything from skin damage to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are naturally present in the body and are created during routine natural processes like breathing, according to UBC Okanagan Chemistry Professor Gino DiLabio and study co-author.

Gino DiLabio is a professor and head of the Department of Chemistry at UBC Okanagan

“Free radicals are a natural part of human metabolism. But when our bodies have too many, like when we’re exposed to UV radiation from the sun, when we smoke, or even when we drink alcohol, it can be a problem,” says DiLabio. “These extremely reactive molecules can damage cells or DNA and can contribute to many different diseases, like Alzheimer’s, and some researchers think they may even be responsible for aging.”

While the body already has its own chemical defenses against free radicals through vitamin C and vitamin E, DiLabio and his colleagues wanted to know how a human-made anti-oxidant called TEMPO would perform.

To explore the idea, the researchers used a mimicked cell environment to test how effective TEMPO was in converting free radicals to non-harmful molecules compared to vitamin E.

“We were surprised to learn that TEMPO was up to 100 times faster at converting free radicals than vitamin E in fatty environments,” says DiLabio. “That means that it could be a particularly effective means of protecting skin tissues or even the walls of cells from radical damage.”

Dilabio says that the study may lead to the development of a pharmaceutical therapy to help prevent free radical damage.

“I could see this leading to the development of a topical cream to protect your skin after exposure to the sun or even a pill that could protect your neurons from getting damaged. The possibilities are very exciting.”

The article was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society with funding from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada Foundation for Innovation and the BC Knowledge Development Fund.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

New method to help meet increasing demand for cannabis potency testing

With the coming legalization of cannabis in Canada, producers are increasingly looking for quick and accurate means of determining the potency and quality of their products.

Researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus have developed a new method of measuring phytocannabinoids—the primary bioactive molecules in cannabis—that will lead to faster, safer and more accurate information for producers, regulators and consumers alike.

“There is growing demand on testing labs from licensed cannabis growers across the US and Canada who are under pressure to perform potency testing on ever-increasing quantities of product,” says Matthew Noestheden, PhD chemistry student under Prof. Wesley Zandberg at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Traditional tests can take upwards of 20 minutes to perform, where we can do it in under seven. It will save a great deal of time and money for producers with enormous greenhouses full of thousands of samples requiring testing.”

Noestheden says that not only can he test the substance in record time, but he can also test for a virtually limitless number of phytocannabinoid variants.

“Most people are familiar with THC as the primary bioactive compound in cannabis. But in reality, there are more than 100 different phytocannabinoid variants, many with their own unique biological effects,” says Noestheden. “The problem is that it’s very difficult to differentiate between them when testing cannabis potency.”

The research team overcame the problem by using high-pressure liquid chromatography—an instrument that isolates each phytocannabinoid to measure them independently. They were able to discern the potency of 11 unique phytocannabinoids in cannabis extracts, which is important for determining the safety and authenticity of cannabis products.

“We tested twice as many phytocannabinoids compared to what most labs are testing for now, and more than twice as fast,” says Noestheden. “We limited our tests to 11 variants because these were the only ones commercially available at the time. We could just as easily test for 50 or even all 100 variants, including some synthetic cannabinoids that can be added to products to increase potency.”

Noestheden says his method was designed to be rolled out in labs around the world. Having worked with Rob O’Brien, president of Supra Research and Development, a cannabis testing lab and industry partner of this study, Noestheden now hopes his new method can be put straight to good use by helping researchers connect variation in phytocannabinoids with the pharmacological effects of various cannabis products.

“It’s an elegant solution because any cannabis testing lab with the appropriate instrumentation should be able to adopt the new method with minimal additional investment, making the whole process cheaper and faster.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

UBC Okanagan prof. says the technique is a valuable new tool

Researchers from UBC’s Okanagan campus hope to make advances in tissue replacement and cancer research through a new technology that can produce living, 3D printed bio-tissues.

“One of the ultimate goals in biomedical engineering is to recreate viable, healthy and living tissues,” says engineering professor Keekyoung Kim. “The applications are staggering and could range from helping people suffering from ailments such as severe burns or organ failure to creating artificial tissues for research into diseases like cancer.”

Keekyoung Kim, associate professor at UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering

Much like weaving a tapestry, Kim and his team devised a method of using an inexpensive laser diode to solidify a water-based gel into a complex cross-linked pattern. The engineered tissue provides not only strength but also a structure where living cells can live and thrive.

The new system, called direct laser bio-printing, is able to print artificial tissue at a much finer resolution than what’s currently possible and can support healthy, living cells with 95 per cent effectiveness.

“These findings show a promising future for tissue engineering and medical research,” says Kim. “We’re already looking at applying the technology to cancer research.”

According to Kim, there is considerable demand for biological models where researchers can grow cancer cells in three dimensions. He says that living cells are highly sensitive to chemical, mechanical, and biological conditions that are only present in a 3D environment.

Kim’s research, which was an interdisciplinary project from UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering and Department of Chemistry, tested the artificial tissue’s ability to support healthy cells by building a pattern that encapsulated a commonly used line of breast cancer cells.

“The tissue pattern, which has extremely fine features and high cell viability, firmly demonstrates that our system has real potential to create functional, engineered tissue,” he says. “I’m excited by what this could bring to biomedical research.”

Kim worked with fellow engineering professor Jonathan Holzman and chemistry professor Fred Menard along with graduate students Zongje Wang and Xian Jin to develop the new system.

According to Holzman, this field of research is perfectly suited to interdisciplinary research.

"Bio-tissue printing applies knowledge in biology, chemistry, and microfabrication toward the health sciences,” says Holzman. “I think our recent success in bio-tissue printing came about from the multidisciplinary nature of our team."

The research, published recently in Advanced Healthcare Materials, was supported by Discovery Grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Opportunity Fund.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.