Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development

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tripome molecule

Health: Therapeutic properties of pomegranate waste

Molecules extraction from pomegranate by-products and residues to produce beneficial supplements and nutraceuticals is the objective of NewTriPome, a novel ENEA research project which brings together the expertise and technological platforms of four laboratories of the Casaccia Research Center (Rome)[1] engaged on health and biotechnology issues  in the agri-food sector.

 “Pomegranate is a 'super food' due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, shown in fruit extracts. NewTriPome is now capable of obtaining active biomolecules for the protection of human health also from fruit residues from cultivation or processing to produce food and juices”, explained Gianfranco Diretto, head of the ENEA Biotechnology Laboratory. “Furthermore - he said - valorisation of by-products from agricultural and agro-industrial activities would also have significant repercussions in terms of the circular economy, also in consideration of the growing trend both in pomegranates cultivation and fruit consumption”.

 “The four ENEA laboratories will work jointly to identify the active biomolecules present in plant and fruit waste and later study their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial activity in human experimental models of intestinal epithelium, liver tissue and macrophage component, i.e. those immune cells that play the role of scavengers in our body”, explained Barbara Benassi, head of the ENEA Health and the Environment Laboratory.

Furthermore, the research team will use the CRESCO6 supercomputer to perform molecular dynamics analysis capable of identifying the active ingredients to define the specific formulation of nutraceutical products and food supplements that can act on oxidative stress and inflammation, responsible for the onset of several chronic-degenerative diseases and tissue aging.

This project follows a long tradition of studies on the bioactive properties and nutraceutical potential of crops like hazelnut, saffron, tomato, wild ginger, basil, shiso and watercress, but also of waste such as the blades of the prickly pear and that from the flowers of Melissa officinalis.

The Biotechnology Laboratory collaborated with the Alfasigma company to identify the chemical components present in postbiotics, i.e. bacterial products generated during food fermentation processes. Furthermore, it participated in the COMETA project for the determination, at a chemical level, of the components responsible for the quality of espresso coffee and is a partner of the INNCOCELLS projects on new ingredients and cosmetic products from vegetable materials and waste and PRIMA – PROMEDLIFE, which aims at enhancing and redefining, on a social, chemical and technological innovation basis, several products and elements of the Mediterranean diet. As for nutraceuticals, the Health and the Environment Laboratory is collaborating with the company Esserre Pharma for the characterization of the anti-inflammatory and hypolipidemic effect (which lowers the lipid content in blood) of plant extracts from the Mediterranean zone.

For more information please contact:

Gianfranco Diretto, ENEA - Biotechnologies Laboratory –

Barbara Benassi, ENEA - Health and the Environment Laboratory –


[1] The four laboratories are all part of the "Sustainability of Production and Territorial Systems Department: one of the Technologies and Methodologies for Health Protection Division (Health and the Environment), three of the Biotechnology and Agro-Industry Division (Biotechnology; Sustainability, Quality and Safety of agri-food production; Bioproducts and bioprocesses)