SUSU International Laboratory: From Healthy Food Products to Bio-tableware

The Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients Laboratory was opened at the SUSU School of Medical Biology in 2016, within the frameworks of Project 5-100. The laboratory was created for the purpose of searching for solutions of the tasks in the field of developing the technologies of synthesizing food bio-polymers and their modified forms, produced by using ultrasound. The head of the laboratory is Professor of National Institute of Technology, Warangal, India, Shirish Sonowane, and on behalf of SUSU the laboratory is supervised by Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor Irina Potoroko.

– What relevant problems are being solved by the staff of the Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients Laboratory?

I.P.: Today, the research studies across the world aim at developing sustainable technologies based on rational models of consumption and production, to improve the quality of life; as well as eco-friendly technologies in food industry, to ensure good health of the population. To solve these global problems, the scientists form our laboratory are working on creating “green” technologies of extracting bioactive substances of adaptogenic action (through exposure to ultrasound) and building these into the food matrix of a finished product. Such technologies allow us to produce eco-friendly and healthy food. We’re also dealing with developing a digital platform for modelling the properties of food ingredients and their production.

Photo: Irina Potoroko, supervisor of the Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients Laboratory on behalf of SUSU

– Who constitutes the laboratory staff?

I.P.: At our laboratory, we formed a motivated team of researchers comprising postgraduates, Master’s students, and young scientists who are interested in developing the technologies of producing biocomposites from the microingredients of vegetable raw materials. Our international team includes scientists from Institute of Technology, Warangal, India, and Medical University – Varna, Bulgaria.

– Which projects are currently being fulfilled by the laboratory staff?

I.P.: Two projects are being fulfilled at our laboratory for two years now. Studying of the molecular mechanisms of adaptogenic effects of such medicinal herbs as Sambucus ebulus (or dwarf elder) and Lonicera caerulea L. (blue-berried honeysuckle) is carried out jointly with Medical University in Bulgaria. Five articles were published with the results of this work. The second project is the engineering of nanocontainers, using sonochemical approach, for efficient delivery of bioactive substances, and it is being conducted in collaboration with scientists from India, Brazil, and China. In 2018, as part of the joint research, two scientific articles were published in a journal indexed in WoS TOP 10, Scopus.

Photo: Shirish Sonowane, Head of the Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients Laboratory

– What results have already been achieved?

Sh.S.: We’re carrying out successful partnership research in the field of food and biotechnologies. SUSU is working on new trends, such as improving the quality of food products and their nutritional value. We have a great engineering base at our Institute of Technology in Warangal, and I believe we’re wonderfully complimenting each others possibilities for the purpose of studying the processes of improving the food products quality.

– How SUSU students are involved in the laboratory research?

I.P.: As part of their project-based learning, the students of the SUSU School of Medical Biology are dealing with a project, which was initially intended for developing efficient technologies of grain disinfection, but which has gained a new vector over the period of our working on it. Today, at our Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients International Laboratory, Master’s students are working on developing a biodegradable polymer from modified starch, which can then be used to produce disposable tableware.

– What other research studies are being planned by the laboratory?

I.P.: In the year of 2018, the research team of the laboratory headed by Irina Potoroko and Shirish Sonawane won a grant by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research in part of the joint initiative Russian-Indian scientific projects on Ultrasound-assisted Encapsulation of Bioactive Compounds to Be Placed in the Food Matrix. The prerequisite for developing a solution for this problem was the necessity of determining the principles of building bioactive substances into the food matrix to preserve their bioaccessibility with consideration to physical and chemical properties of food. We hope we will be able to commercialize those technologies, which we obtained as a result of the work performed by our Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients Laboratory. We presented the results we’d achieved over the 3 years of joint work at the meeting of the International Scientific Council in June of 2019.

In the course of the meeting of the International Scientific Council of South Ural State University, SUSU Rector Aleksandr Shestakov drew the attention to the fact that the Synthesis and Analysis of Food Ingredients Laboratory is currently among the most efficient ones in the university. This efficiency is manifested not only in the commercialization of its innovations, but also in the level of its scientific articles and the status of the highly ranked journals where these are published.

Olga Romanovskaia, photo by: Oleg Igoshin
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