U of G Food Scientist’s Leukemia Research Featured

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A photo of Prof. Paul Spagnuolo holding an avocado

Prof. Paul Spagnuolo

University of Guelph food scientist Paul Spagnuolo is featured in the latest issues of Edible Toronto and Edible Ottawa discussing his ongoing research into new leukemia treatments using an ingredient in avocados.

Prof. Spagnuolo told the magazine about the family tragedy that drives his research, his multidisciplinary background and training, and what drew him to the growing food science sector of “nutraceuticals” — pharmaceuticals derived from food.

He and his team at U of G’s Spagnuolo Lab have been working on a key fat molecule in avocados called avocatin B, which shows promise as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.

Avocatin B has already been shown to kill leukemia cells and leukemia stem cells. Spagnuolo and his colleagues are now hoping to develop the molecule into a drug that would work alongside other chemotherapy medications.

The work is part of a four-year, $200,000 study funded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) under its Transitional Research Initiative. which bring together researchers to develop Ontario innovations for treating cancer.

Spagnuolo joined U of G’s Department of Food Science in 2016 after serving as an Assistant Professor at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo.