AI platform identifies health compounds in hemp hull

Published: 15-Mar-2022

A preclinical study on NCT and NFT published last year showed how these plant bioactives triggered a ‘total body reset’ in mice fed a high-fat diet

Biotechnology company Brightseed has used its AI platform, which illuminates the connections between plants and human health, to identify two potentially health-benefiting compounds in hemp hull, the outer shell of the hemp seed. In two preclinical studies published in Cell Death and Disease, a Nature peer-reviewed journal, the compounds N-trans-caffeoyltyramine (NCT) and N-trans-feruloyltyramine (NFT) showed an ability to clear fat from the livers of mice and in human cells.

These plant bioactives, currently in human clinical trials, could potentially inform how to approach weight gain during the development of obesity and the management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – a chronic condition which impacts up to 25% of the global population and has no approved treatment.

“Forager enables us to quickly traverse the molecular world of plants and find extraordinary prospects for new health solutions, often in places that are least expected,” said Sofia Elizondo, co-founder and COO of Brightseed. “Hemp is one of the most sustainable and versatile crops on the planet, and hemp hearts are celebrated for their dense nutritional profile. The irony is that industry has been tossing the seed shells, or the outer wrapper of hemp hearts, without realising they are a potential goldmine for human health. Armed with new insight, we can make better use of this sustainable resource.” 

This development builds on the company’s earlier discovery of NFT and NCT in black pepper. Beyond well-known cannabinoids, the hemp plant, also known as Cannabis sativa, contains many bioactive phytochemicals with potential therapeutic applications, the company says. According to the company, hemp hull is largely discarded and has remained an unassuming part of the hemp plant. The first preclinical study on NCT and NFT published last year showed how these plant bioactives triggered a ‘total body reset’ in mice fed a high-fat diet. At certain doses, scientists observed health benefits in mice, including reduced liver fat, regulated lipid levels, restored healthy organ function, as well as increased insulin levels in human cells, signalling a resetting and restoring of metabolism from poor to healthy.

The second study, published in January 2022, showed the compounds reduced body weight gain and accumulation of liver fat together with a reduction in liver inflammation when mice were placed on a long-term, high-fat diet.  Moreover, the company claims, NCT and NFT activated fat processing through a novel mechanism not previously reported in literature.   

“Forager found NFT and NCT in over 80 plant sources, and where we source plant bioactives is a crucial part of how we design the next iteration of proactive and preventative health,” said Jim Flatt, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Brightseed. “As we look to nature for a blueprint on how to evolve food-as-medicine and plant medicine, we also have to factor in the role of climate and its impact on plant biodiversity and crop health. In addition to creating the data that will inform the future of plant-based health, sustainable sourcing is a priority as Brightseed brings plant bioactive discovery to fruition for food and health industries.”

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