A new banana variety high in vitamin A is ready for human trials.
The pro-vitamin A-enriched banana, developed by scientists at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, will be trialed in the U.S. for six weeks, with results known by the end of the year, according to university news release.
The banana was developed to help people in Uganda and other East African countries who don’t get enough Vitamin A in their diet. Bananas are a staple in the diet of many East Africans.
The pro-vitamin A-enriched banana has orange flesh, rather than the cream-colored flesh of conventional bananas.
Ugandan farmers are expected to start growing the variety by about 2020, James Dale, the lead researcher, said in the release.
The project, launched in 2005, is backed by close to $10 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Pro-vitamin A deficiency kills 650,000 to 700,000 children annually and blinds at least another 300,000, Dale said. It also has been linked with impaired immune systems and impaired brain development.
The banana is being trialed in the U.S. because the level of analysis required was too complex for a trial in Australia to be down efficiently, Dale said.