Alberta Barley

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Plant protein nanoparticles to improve oral bioavailability of bioactive compounds—ex vivo testing using animal intestine

Project lead:
Dr. Lingyun Chen
Cereal Research Chair
University of Alberta

Timeline: September 2010 – October 2013


  • Alberta Barley
  • Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund
  • Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions
  • University of Alberta

Alberta Barley funding: $6,000
Total funding from other partners: $184,943

Incorporation of nutraceuticals into food systems provides a convenient approach to create new functional foods in order to lower the risk of chronic diseases and improve public health. However, many of these compounds exhibit low bioavailability. The project aimed to test the feasibility of applying the barley protein nanoparticles as a novel oral delivery system to solve the problems of malabsorption of nutrients, using beta-carotene as the model. Barley protein nanoparticles of good stability and high payload were successfully prepared.

Benefits for farmers:
The project has demonstrated the new concept that barley protein can be converted to novel nanocapsules to improve the bioavailability of nutraceuticals, allowing new opportunities to use barley protein in functional food and cosmetic industries. This could potentially create new commercialization routes for barley in high-technology areas.