Press Release: New Study Uses Bio-based, Renewable Solvent to Extract Key Nutrient to Combat COVID-19

CircaMELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – 16 December 2020 – New research published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal used renewable solvent CyreneTM – produced by biotechnology company Circa Group from waste biomass – to extract two key phytonutrients, hesperidin and rutin. Hesperidin is a sought after natural flavonoid, which is also being looked at to help tackle COVID-19, as it binds to the virus’ key proteins and counteracts cell-damaging effects triggered by infection and inflammation.

Hesperidin and rutin are natural flavonoids, traditionally extracted from citrus fruits and tea leaves respectively, by using large amounts of ethanol or methanol solvents. The study’s authors wanted to take a more sustainable extraction approach by using agro-industrial waste and bio-based alternatives to traditional, toxic solvents.

Researchers found that CyreneTM was very effective when extracting hesperidin and rutin from dried orange peel and tea. Adding water to CyreneTM enhances the solubility and extraction of hesperidin and rutin up to ten times than those of the original pure form. The study concludes that the “extraction methodology used is environmentally friendly and offers future potential of isolation of other flavonoids.”

James Clark, Scientific Advisor to Circa Group and Director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, said, “The extraction of natural products, including medicines, is becoming increasingly important in the green economy, since they remove the need for expensive and wasteful synthetic processes. It is vital that the extraction processes are themselves environmentally-friendly and here we show how the natural product-derived CyreneTM is an ideal green extracting solvent.”

Tony Duncan, CEO and co-founder of Circa Group, said, “With hesperidin recently attracting attention in the fight against COVID-19, we are delighted to see that our bio-based alternative to traditional, toxic solvents can extract rutin and hesperidin effectively and more sustainably. This work complements our developments using our core molecule - levoglucosenone (LGO) - to produce a key intermediate for coronavirus treatments, including COVID-19 therapeutics.”

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