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Tequila Fruit Compound Could Help Treat Colon

Blue agave 'fructans' carry drugs safely through stomach acid, study finds

TUESDAY, March 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Compounds derived from the blue agave -- the fruit used to make tequila -- show promise as a new way to deliver drugs to the colon, according to the results of early laboratory studies by researchers at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.

The researchers used these compounds, a class of polysaccharides known as fructans, to create tiny microspheres that are able to carry drugs to treat colon diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease.

Currently, many drugs designed to treat colon diseases are destroyed by stomach acid and never reach the intestine. Scientists have been trying to develop ways to get the drugs safely through the stomach and into the intestine.

Since fructans aren't destroyed in the stomach, they may prove an effective delivery system for drugs to treat colon diseases.

In laboratory tests, the researchers exposed fructan microspheres to hydrochloric acid for an hour. When they were taken out of the hydrochloric acid and examined, the microspheres appeared intact.

The findings were expected to be presented Tuesday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago. If further laboratory and animal studies provide promising results, the researchers plan to conduct human studies of the fructan microspheres.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about digestive disorders.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, March 27, 2007
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