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This collaborative research project involves five European institutions that have been given support by the EU Directorate General for Research. It also includes three different Indian research centers financed separately by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

Cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the general population. Even a modest decrease in the prevalence of these afflictions translates into millions of lives saved. The aim of this project is to investigate agents with potential use as “functional food” constituents with respect to protection against these common afflictions.

The age related diseases mentioned above take decades to develop, and within this project the potentially positive impact of putative protective agents will, therefore, be monitored by means of predictive molecular and cytogenetic “biomarkers”. Initially, studies are conducted in cultured cells as well as in rodent models with respect to induction of DNA lesions, tumours as well as biomarkers for the development of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and atherosclerosis. Finally, testing of the protective efficacy of agents selected on basis of the experimental systems will be carried out in intervention cross-over studies in humans exposed to grilled foods, tobacco or cooking fumes that normally contain carcinogens in significant levels.

Except for chlorophyllin, a commonly used food supplement and coloring substance, all agents to be tested are of plant origin, and many have been used in traditional herbal medicines for centuries.