The six-year study into ways in which food and genes interact currently has 22 partners from 10 EU member states and is led by Dr Ben van Ommen of Dutch Centre for Human Nutrigenomics.
Studies of diet-gene interactions have been underway for a number of years but until now researchers have generally been limited to investigating one, or at most, a handful of genes, at any one time and single or simple groups of nutrients rather than whole foods.
However the human genome project has provided the background information and new tools that enable researchers to take a much more global perspective.
There are, however, huge challenges to be faced. Many of the technologies are relatively new and still developing or being refined and for practical and theoretical reasons, researchers are having to rethink their standard approaches. Coping with, and interpreting, the vast quantity of data generated is another other major issue. Although specialised computer tools are available more development is needed.
The new project, called NuGO, is expected to go some way towards the long-term goal of providing everyone with scientifically sound information on what they should eat so as to maintain or improve their health and prevent diseases associated with ageing such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
For more information, contact Dr Siân Astley at the UK-based Institute of Food Research.