Ag research can help fight cancer? Vilsack visits Ohio State

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COLUMBUS — Shining a light on agricultural research that has implications for fighting cancer, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited The Ohio State University June 28 to see the Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship, where researchers are studying the development of novel functional foods and components that offer benefits to health.

Vilsack’s visit coincides with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the land grant university system with the signing of the Morrill Act of 1862.

“Many people do not understand the contributions to human health that agricultural research makes,” said Vilsack. “But here at Ohio State, there are many vivid examples showcasing the essential role agricultural research plays in solving some of the world’s most pressing health problems.”

Cancer-fighting juice

Ohio State researchers recently used a $1,275,000 USDA grant to develop a soy fortified tomato juice that could potentially benefit prostate cancer patients.

They also are conducting clinical trials to study the impact of raspberries and a soy bread on certain cancers.

Ohio State’s business partners joined Vilsack to discuss how the research is making its way from crops to the clinic to the consumer.

Federal grants

Currently, OSU has 67 active research and integrated grants competitively awarded through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), funded at more than $28.5 million.

OSU regularly receives annual allocations to fund agricultural research and extension. In federal fiscal year 2012, the university received more than $13 million in extension formula dollars and over $8 million in formula research dollars from USDA/NIFA.

Through a $500,000 USDA competitive grant, for example, OSU food scientists are working to increase the absorption of antioxidants by the human body. By encapsulating the antioxidants in plant-based polymers, the researchers will create micro particles that can be broken down in the gastrointestinal tract.

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