Portuguese team creates an alternative substance to coffee with faster absorption

Researchers at the School of Biotechnology at the Catholic University in Porto have developed a substance that appears as an alternative to coffee and allows “a faster absorption and a controlled release of caffeine,” one of those responsible said.

Pedro Castro, a doctoral student at the Escola Superior de Biotecnologia do Porto (ESB) and one of the people responsible for the research, said that the project consists of “the optimization and development of caffeine through pharmaceutical release.”

“Caffeine is a bitter and unpleasant molecule, so our goal has been to put the caffeine molecule into nanoparticles and to ‘mask’ its taste a little bit. When introducing caffeine into nanoparticles, we increase the permeability in the vocal mucosa, he explained.

Thus, through a ‘film’ [term used to designate a small strip] placed in the mouth, the substance dissolves and within 30 seconds releases the caffeine.

“This optimization allows for faster absorption as well as a more controlled release of caffeine, which instead of having a peak absorption and causing anxiety or tremor problems, is absorbed without going beyond the barrier of overdosage,” said Pedro Castro.

The project, called Bioralstrip, has a grant from the Foundation for Science and Technology, and is partnered with the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3s), in Porto, which is checking “the direction of the nanoparticles in the tissue cell phone”.

According to Pedro Castro, although this is a “more practical solution, which can even be carried in a pocket,” it does not aim to “replace the typical coffee.”

“We can not compete with coffee, because coffee has a much stronger component than the functional part, which is the social part. However, if we are in a marathon or even on a long trip where we can not stop, it is very more practical to take a tablet. This solution appears as an alternative to coffee, in a situation where you can not turn to a machine so easily, “he said.

For the doctoral student, the impact of this solution will be “purely functional,” because he believes that “the product aims to increase human performance with the least possible resources expenditures.”

The team, which developed the product, tested for toxicity and cell permeability, and now plans to “market this solution.”

“Our goal has always been to market, this project has already shown that it has value for this, since, in the 2nd edition of BioTech (entrepreneurship program conducted by ESB), our product won the prize with the greatest potential to enter the market and take the next step that would make a startup, “added Pedro Castro.

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