Grapefruit-pummelo hybrid may help drug interaction issues

12/19/2012 01:05:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

grapefruitCourtesy Florida Department of CitrusA naturally occurring compound in grapefruit causes undesirable interactions with some medications.Consumers who take medication and worry about it interacting with grapefruit and grapefruit products may not have to be concerned for much longer.

University of Florida researchers have identified the compounds in grapefruit juice responsible for the interactions, and breeders have developed a hybrid, known as UF 914, that has the lowest effect on enzymes within the stomach, according to a news release.

The hybrid is nearing release.

Compounds within grapefruit, known as furanocoumarins, inhibit the action of an enzyme that breaks down certain medications in the human digestive tract.

The phenomenon, which has been dubbed the "grapefruit juice effect," can produce unexpectedly high levels of these medications in a patient's bloodstream.

Doctors, pharmacists and even drug labels on certain medications warn of these undesirable effects.

Fred Gmitter, a citrus genetics researcher at the UF Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, led a group that developed a hybrid between grapefruit and a variety of pummelo. 

The pummelo parent has low furanocoumarin content and can transmit that trait to offspring.

The researchers tested samples from 40 different hybrids and their parents for their overall effect on enzyme activity.

UF 914 was among the samples with the lowest effect.

Additional studies are needed to determine how low furanocoumarin levels must be to reduce the risk of medicine interaction risks, according to the release.

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