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Wine Waste

February 7, 2008

A winemaker’s compost may become a gold mine for dentists.


How winemakers may help dentists. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Wineries produce not only fine Cabernets, but may someday be a source of chemicals for dental rinses. This according to research at Cornell University and the University of Rochester. Cornell food scientist Olga Padilla-Zakour and her colleagues isolated chemicals called polyphenols from the squashed grape residue that wineries throw away. They tested the chemicals against bacteria that make the acids and dental plaque that cause tooth decay.

OLGA PADILLA-ZAKOUR (Cornell University):
The polyphenol extracts inhibited the capacity of the bacteria to form the acids and also to produce the plaque.

But they didn’t actually kill the bacteria. That’s useful, because indiscriminate killing tends to breed drug-resistant germs. So it’s possible that these chemicals could be part of a new generation of more sustainable antibiotics. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.