Could whey from camel milk have anti-cancer properties?

Researchers in the United Arab Emirates say they saw enhanced anti-proliferative, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory activities upon hydrolysis of camel whey proteins, indicating their potential utilization as bioactive and functional ingredients.

The study, published in the Journal of Dairy Science and done at the Department of Food Science, College of Food and Agriculture, Al Ain, and Department of Biology, College of Science, United Arab Emirates University, says In addition to its nutritional benefits, camel milk has been used for its medicinal properties, including immunomodulatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, and antidiabetic activities.

Camel whey contains greater contents of antimicrobial factors such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins compared with bovine milk. In addition, camel whey contains several immunomodulatory proteins (serum albumin, α-LA, lactophorin, and peptidoglycan) that are naturally present or that are part of the primary sequence of whey proteins.

Functional foods

The authors of the study said the past decade has seen increased interest in functional foods that are not only health-promoting but also effective in reducing the risk of diseases. Recently, peptides derived from camel milk protein and their potential health-related bioactive properties have been the focus for researchers. Previous studies also indicate camel milk has beneficial effects on treatment of wounds.

They also state camel milk has been demonstrated to be beneficial in reducing the dose of insulin needed to induce glycemic control and increases glycosylate hemoglobin, anti-insulin antibodies, and urinary albumin excretion, and lowers body mass index.

The researchers noted, however, that camel whey proteins and their hydrolysates have not received attention with respect to their anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.

Anti-diabetic effects

The study indicated camel whey proteins might have anti-diabetic effects after gastric and intestinal digestion upon consumption, as well as the inhibitory potential of whey protein hydrolysates toward α-glucosidase and α-amylase, which is potentially an additional method to manage type 2 diabetes through the inhibition of these carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes.

The results also provide a strong basis for further research into whey protein hydrolysates as a potential therapeutic agent for cancer, the authors also stated.

The researchers concluded camel whey protein hydrolysates show potential anticancer activity against human liver cancer HepG2 cells, and the anticancer activity was dose-dependent.

Of the enzymes tested, hydrolysis for three hours with chymotrypsin yielded hydrolysates with the highest anticancer activity.

The authors said they believe camel milk whey is a potential source of hydrolysates with promising anticancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory activities.

 Source: Journal of Dairy Science

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