How a potato juice supplement could help cure stomach ulcers
Scientist at Manchester University was told of the potato's curative properties by her boyfriend's grandma
15:56 GMT, 8 August 2012
Stomach ulcers could have handed in their chips – thanks to the humble potato.
Scientists at Manchester University have discovered spuds contain unique antibacterial molecules that can treat the condition.
Members of the university’s microbiology team now hope the substance, dubbed ‘potato juice’ could go into production as a daily diet supplement.
Potatoes contain unique antibacterial molecules that can treat the condition
Inspiration came as one of the department’s scientists tucked into a spud for Sunday lunch.
It led to the discovery of a key molecule which could both cure and prevent the bacteria that lives in the stomach and causes stomach ulcers and heartburn.
The discovery is one of many being made by scientists at the university as they try to develop the products and medicines of tomorrow.
Uniquely, unlike with antibiotics, the stomach bacteria cannot develop resistance to the ‘potato juice’ which also does not cause any side-effects.
Scientists at the university even carried out the test on different types of potatoes – discovering Maris Piper and King Edward varieties worked the best.
The process to extract the as yet unnamed molecule has now been patented, with hopes it could one day be sold as a supplement similar to probiotic yoghurt drinks.
Professor Ian Roberts was part of the team that made the molecule discovery
Ian Roberts, professor of microbiology at the Faculty of Life Sciences, who worked on the discovery, said: 'One of our scientists was having Sunday lunch when her boyfriend’s grandma said they used to use potatoes to cure stomach ulcers.
'Afterwards she went and bought a bag of King Edwards from a shop on Curry Mile and started testing them in the lab.
'When I first heard about the idea of using potatoes to treat stomach ulcers I have to admit I was a bit sceptical. But on another level I wasn’t surprised – a lot of botanical products have very interesting compounds and we just have to find them.
'We see this ‘potato juice’ as a preventative measure to stop stomach ulcers developing that people would take as part of a healthy lifestyle. It could be a huge market if we can get it developed.'
The discovery of ‘potato juice’ is just one of a number of new medicines and treatments being developed by staff at the University of Manchester’s intellectual property department.
Staff there seek out companies from across the world to develop the university’s inventions.
Business manager Dr Sunita Jones said: 'It is really exciting to see these new discoveries – they cover all areas of science so it really keeps us on our toes.
'As a scientist, the end goal of any work is to put something into the public arena which will benefit people.
'We work to develop all the new technology that comes out of the university, by getting licensing agreements or forming spin-out companies. It’s great to see years of research pay off with a new drug or product at the end.'