All the goodness of broccoli - without the broccoli

UK-based nutrition science company Evgen and Denmark's University of Copenhagen are to collaborate on the development of a new patented method for manufacturing the molecules in broccoli believed to offer health benefits, including decreased risk of developing some cancers.

The initiative will focus on glucosinolates, the bioactive compounds naturally derived from cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. The Copenhagen research team is developing a means of making these compounds using fermentation technology. It is hoped this can be transformed into the large-scale manufacture of the purified bioactive molecules, which can then be used in new consumer products, such as dietary supplements, or even new medicines.

Evgen chief executive Stephen Franklin said: "According to the American Cancer Society, people should be eating seven servings of cruciferous vegetables per week in order to get the full benefit, but in reality, on average, only one serving per week is typically consumed in a country such as the United States.

"Therefore, a single dietary supplement that has the same level of natural activity as a serving of broccoli is an attractive proposition — especially for certain at-risk groups, such as men with prostate concerns."

Robert Terry, commercial officer at the University of Copenhagen Technology Transfer Unit, added: "There is strong scientific evidence to suggest that consumption of broccoli or administration of certain glucosinolates can provide protection against some types of cancer. This development, if successful, will mean that for the first time we will have purified, quality-controlled products for entry into human trials — and ultimately this will give rise to new a new generation of products with health benefits that people can trust."

Sheffield-based Evgen, which was founded in 2007 by Franklin, describes itself as "dedicated to developing new evidence-based nutritional brands that make a meaningful impact on quality of life".

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