About ASHOK PATEL
Dr. Ashok Patel, author of book ‘Alternative Routes to Oil Structuring’ (Springer, 2015) and editor of book ‘Edible Oil Structuring: Concepts, Methods and Applications’ (RSC, 2017), has recently joined INL as a Marie Curie Cofund Fellow.
He prides himself in being an internationally mobile researcher who has been active in the field of applied colloid science within different sectors including CRO (Piramal Healthcare Ltd, India), Industry (Unilever R&D Vlaardingen, Netherlands) and University (Ghent University, Belgium).
His past and current research is focused on using food-grade ingredients to create novel structured systems including oleogels, foams, colloidal particles and complex emulsions to solve formulation issues in food product development. He has published more than 50 ‘first-authored’ publications in the area of applied colloid science including original research papers, reviews, book chapters and patents. For his research, he has received prestigious and highly competitive individual funding from European Commission (Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship and Marie Curie Career Integration Grant). In 2015, he was selected for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate at the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting as a visiting scientist. He is involved in the scientific committees of AOCS Annual Meetings, FSFF Symposium and ICFP biannual conferences. He currently serves as an editorial board member for Springer journal – Food Biophysics.
At INL, Dr. Patel aims to work on his ambitious project of developing complex colloidal particles that carry and deliver fat-binding agents to the intestine. It is his hypothesis that by controlling the de-structuring of these particles in the intestine, the release of the fat-binding agents can be matched to different steps of fat digestion for an efficient multi-step binding that will eventually lead to an overall reduction in fat absorption.
In keeping with the motto of INL that is “Creating value at the smallest scale to tackle challenges at the grandest scale”, this project aims at exploring the feasibility of innovating at the colloidal scale to solve the global social issue of obesity.
The Cofund project
Developing Food-grade Trojan horses for controlling fat absorption
Obesity is currently amongst the most significant societal problems around the globe with an estimate of around 2 billion people or almost 30% of the world population being overweight or obese. To tackle this growing issue, World Health Organization has emphasized the need of developing strategies to help people make healthy choices and, 'reformulating' of processed food products forms an important element of these strategies. From a scientific point of view, high quality innovation and breakthrough cross-disciplinary research can contribute significantly to these strategies by enabling development of value-added food products that can be incorporated in normal diet and help us in combating the issues related to body weight management.
In the proposed research, I set an ambitious goal of developing a food-based approach to body weight management. Specifically, my concept focuses on fabricating food-grade 'Trojan horses' (microcapsules that carry and deliver fat-binding nanoparticles to the intestine in a programmed manner). It is my hypothesis that by controlling the de-structuring of the microcapsules in the intestine, the release of fat-binding agents can be matched to the different stages of fat digestion to achieve efficient multi-step binding, leading to an overall reduction in fat absorption without any gastric discomfort which is usually associated with pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products currently used as fat-binders.