Canadian Scientists Find Medicinal Properties in Maple Syrup Compound

Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 / Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientists say they have found potential medicinal properties in a maple syrup molecule.

Quebecol, a chemical compound with the most Canadian name ever, was first discovered in 2011. Quebecol is only found in maple syrup, not sap, which suggests that the compound is a product of the extraction or processing stages.

Other researchers began testing the molecule to find out what it could do, and some of the resulting studies suggested that quebecol might have potential as an anti-cancer drug. One study noted that it displays some similarity to tamoxifen, an antiestrogen drug often used to treat breast cancer.

To find out more, scientists at Quebec City’s Université Laval created a petri dish model of inflammation in the body. "We take blood cells called macrophages and put them with bacterial toxins," researcher Daniel Grenier said in a press release. "Macrophages usually react by triggering an inflammatory response. But if the culture medium contains an anti-inflammatory molecule, this response is blocked."

The researchers found that adding quebecol to the petri dish stopped inflammation before it even started. The same was true for synthetic quebecol-like chemicals. The research team published its findings in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. As quoted in the press release, chemist and co-author Normand Voyer said, "This paves the way for a whole new class of anti-inflammatory agents, inspired by quebecol, that could compensate for the low efficacy of certain treatments while reducing the risk of side effects.”

Not too shabby, eh?