Science

Eating new transgenic rice could lower high blood pressure

Eating new transgenic rice cou...
A test crop of transgenic rice (although not the rice from the study)
A test crop of transgenic rice (although not the rice from the study)
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A test crop of transgenic rice (although not the rice from the study)
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A test crop of transgenic rice (although not the rice from the study)

We've already heard about genetically manipulated types of rice that are drought-resistant and antioxidant-rich. A new one, however, could potentially save the lives of people with high blood pressure.

A leading cause of heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure (aka hypertension) is often treated with drugs known as ACE inhibitors. These target the angiotensin converting enzyme in the patient's hormonal system – that enzyme can cause hypertension by narrowing the blood vessels. Unfortunately, though, such medications may produce unwanted side effects such as kidney impairment, rashes, headaches and dry coughs.

Foods like fish, meat, eggs, milk and some plants contain natural ACE-inhibiting peptides (amino acids), that produce fewer side effects. According to scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, though, isolating large amounts of those peptides from the foods is a time-consuming and expensive process.

Instead, the researchers created a gene consisting of nine ACE-inhibitory peptides and one blood vessel-relaxing peptide, that were all linked together. When that gene was introduced to rice plants, the resulting transgenic rice was found to contain high levels of the peptides.

Two hours after receiving peptides extracted from that rice, hypertensive rats showed a significant decline in blood pressure. By contrast, a control group that received proteins from regular rice plants did not.

Additionally, a drop in blood pressure was observed in rats that received flour made from the transgenic rice (via stomach injections), over the course of five weeks. The effect still remained one week after the end of the treatment period, and no obvious side effects were noted.

It is now believed that if the human body reacts in a similar fashion, a 150-lb (68-kg) adult would need to consume no more than about half a tablespoon of the rice daily in order to treat and prevent hypertension.

A paper on the study was published this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Source: American Chemical Society

6 comments
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This sounds like a revolutionary discovery. I see so many of these that just seem to fade away.
Jose Gros
Interesting. What happened with 'Golden rice', with carotenes in bran, useful to prevent blindness?
Many, many years after Beri-Beri cause was known, series B Vitamins deficit: do they still discard Rice bran in food for animals and humans? Blessings +
windykites
This does sound like sales hype. No mention of GM. New buzzword: transgenic. Just half a teaspoonful? Sounds like powerful stuff. Could you OD?
johnracco
If this is real, I'm sure the pharmaceuticals that have invested in blood pressure medications will make sure it never makes it to market.
drBill
If it works for people, it needs to be self-limiting (normalizing, not purely reducing) bp control. Otherwise, it will be needing a prescription as some sort of DEA schedule drug.
Jinpa
It is GM, by definition. So, a five-week test on rice extracts. Maybe this is some degree of proof of concept, but it is so far from a proven product with no side effects, peer-reviewed and double-blind studied, as to be barely above laughable. If you want to know what a real medical scientist would think of it, read "The Diet Myth", by Dr. Tim Spector.