Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Impact of agents with potential use in functional foods on biomarkers for induction of age related diseases (Nutrition)

Project acronym: FUNCFOOD

Title of project: Impact of agents with potential use in functional foods on biomarkers for induction of age related diseases

Research area: Nutrition

Contract No: 245030

EU contribution: €1 497 708

Start date: February 2010

Duration: 48 months

Status: on-going

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. At the same time, a number of epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated the protective effects of fruits and vegetables with respect to several age-related diseases. The aim of the Funcfood project is to investigate agents with potential use as ‘functional food’ constituents which might boost protection against common afflictions such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and associated pathological disorders. These diseases take decades to develop, so within this project the potential positive impacts of protective agents are being monitored by means of predictive molecular and cytogenetic ‘biomarkers’.

The Funcfood EU partners are collaborating with three Indian research centres to take a multipronged approach whereby the protective action of various non-toxic agents are studied in vitro as well as in rodent models. The research is investigating the induction of DNA lesions, tumours, and biomarkers, which can indicate the development of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and atherosclerosis. The partners are also investigating the impact of protective agents on carcinogen uptake and metabolism in humans, as well as the mode of action of bioactive ingredients on the prevention of diabetic ocular complications. The project aims to provide concrete evidence of active substances and how they are likely to exert protective action against diabetes and associated cardiovascular diseases in humans.

Funcfood is an innovative project – testing the protective efficacy of functional food components in intervention cross-over studies in humans exposed to carcinogens is an approach that has rarely been tried before. Although there has been remarkable progress in understanding the processes that lead to neoplasia (tumour growth) and diabetes, the mechanisms underlying chemoprevention are, in general, little understood. The results are expected to provide improved insights into this topic.

The Funcfood project intends to provide legally-required scientific data of high quality in support of health claims for functional food ingredients, which will contribute to the competitiveness of the EU food sector.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Prof. Dag Jenssen,

Organisation: Stockholms Universitet, Sweden,