story to find out more.
Purified mixture of glyceollins induced from
soybeans. These compounds are being investigated for anticancer activity in
mice. Click the image for more information about it.
Searching for Soy's Secret, Yet Promising,
January 9, 2006
You may not be a huge fan of tofu
now--but there may soon be good reason to become one. Scientists with the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in
New Orleans, La., have uncovered what could be a healthier soybean, by tricking
the legume into churning out a new class of impressive, health-guarding
These phytochemicals, called glyceollins, arent new to
soybeans--its just that theyre absent from the soy-based foods
currently on the market.
In 2001, ARS chemist
Boué became interested in the elusive compounds when he and
collaborators with the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research in
New Orleans discovered that glyceollins could block the growth of
hormone-dependent breast cancer cells in the laboratory.
Since his discovery four years ago, Boué and colleagues from
ARS Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC)
have been searching for ways to coax soybeans into pumping out the promising
The catch is, though soybean plants naturally produce the beneficial
compounds, they only do so if confronted with serious stress, like when
defending themselves against disease-causing microbes or fungi in the soil.
According to ARS research leader Ed Cleveland, todays soybeans are
grown in relatively clean fields where farmers take many
disease-avoidance measures. This means that soybean plants arent forced
to defend themselves against attack. As a result, they dont produce
glyceollins and other possibly beneficial, disease-squelching compounds.
To mimic a microbial assault in the laboratory, Boué and Cleveland
challenged just-germinated soybeans with the food-safe fungus Aspergillus
Because the young, sprouted soybeans perceive the fungus to be a threat,
they produce copious amounts of the protective compounds--evident from the
bright-red coloring the chemicals form as they react on the soybeans
Boué is sharing the isolated compounds with collaborating medical
researchers and is currently searching for ways to induce glyceollin production
on a large scale.
more on this research, see the current issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.