Dariana Graciela Rodriguez Sanchez, a researcher from the Tec of Monterrey, won the National Science and Technology Award 2017 in the Coca-Cola Professorship category for Young Researchers for her work on the nano-formulation of avocado lipid derivatives to increase their beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.
"It is a very important prize in the food area. It is a recognition from the Coca Cola Award and Conacyt. I am very flattered and glad to have received it," stated Dr. Rodriguez Sanchez at an interview with Tec Review.
The Coca-Cola Professorship recognizes young researchers for their previous work. The winner in this category is provided with financial support amounting to 280,000 pesos for the development of his or her research for two years to help consolidate the researcher.
The goal of the EXATEC project is to "nanoformulate compounds that are found in avocados that, in previous research, we found could have properties that improve cardiovascular health," the researcher said.
The next step for this research is to use even more nanotechnology to "boost those properties and eventually be able to use them as food supplements or add them to some foods that are already formulated and that have beneficial properties for the population," she said.
The goal of her work is to look for ways to reduce the particle size of these compounds found in avocado, as they are lipid in nature. "We have certain difficulties or they are not soluble in water when we want to incorporate them into some food matrix or some supplement."
The idea is to use nanotechnology and different strategies to encapsulate them and give them greater solubility in aqueous and biological systems. "Later, once we have them encapsulated, we'll conduct in vitro tests in isolated platelets to see if they really have the ability to inhibit platelet aggregation," she added.
Once the best formulation has been found, researchers will test it on mice to see its effectiveness in reducing the formation of blood clots that can trigger an embolus or infarct.
Comparing nanoformulation with a normal extract and seeing how nanotechnology helps us enhance this cardioprotective activity will be one of the final steps in this research, said Dr. Dariana Graciela, who was also recognized by the MIT Technology Review as one of the best innovators under 35 at the end of 2016.