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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

New Technique Extracts Potential Cancer-Fighting Agent From Citrus / March 25, 1997 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Oranges and orange juice: Link to photo information

New Technique Extracts Potential Cancer-Fighting Agent From Citrus

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
March 25, 1997

A new technique makes possible--for the first time--large-scale extraction of useful natural compounds known as limonoid glucosides that show promise as cancer-fighting agents. Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service identified the chemicals nearly a decade ago in oranges and other citrus fruits.

Researchers and industry have renewed interest in the citrus compounds because of their possible anti-cancer potential. Earlier food-industry interest centered on their role in reducing bitterness of citrus juices.

ARS scientists helped develop the new manufacturing technique with Japanese researchers. The Japanese group has test-marketed a fruit juice beverage with added limonoid glucosides.

The team has applied for patent protection for their method of extracting the glucosides from citrus juice or the thick, dark brown material called citrus molasses. Citrus molasses comes from peels and other citrus waste, while the molasses familiar to consumers is produced during the refinement of raw sugar from sugarcane or sugar beets.

In the new method, the citrus juice or citrus molasses passes through a device lined with material that collects up to 100 percent of the desired compounds. Washing out the material with a solvent such as alcohol yields a purified liquid full of limonoid glucosides.

Scientific contact: Shin Hasegawa, USDA-ARS Process Chemistry and Engineering Unit, Albany, Calif., phone (510) 559-5819; e-mail shinh@pw.usda.gov.

Last Modified: 5/9/2014
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