Introduction

This project represents a collaborative research project involving five European institutions that have been given support by the EU Directorate for Research, Brussels, and it also includes three different Indian research centres financed by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

The challenge in this research is to investigate dietary factors, e.g., so called functional foods, that can prevent age related disease such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, which are the major causes of morbidity and mortality. Even a modest decrease in the prevalence of these maladies translates into millions of lives saved. “Functional foods” are commonly defined as foods that enhance the health benefit from diets beyond the traditional nutrients they contain by means of modification or addition of active ingredients.

The project´s overall strategy involves primary screening of putative protective compounds in cultured mammalian cells, where the most promising candidates are subsequently tested in animal models. In the final stage, compounds that on basis of the experimental data as well as evidence from the literature, seem most likely to prove beneficial will be investigated in humans. The age related diseases mentioned above take decades to develop, far longer than the four years allocated to this project. For this reason the studied effects will be monitored by means of “biomarkers”, analogous e.g. to the use of specific biological factors in blood and urine to detect development of disease.

The project concerns 15 separate working packages of which 5 are allocated to 3 different Indian Research Centres.