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Local Mediterranean food plants:
Potential new nutraceuticals and current role in the Mediterranean diet

Contract number : QLK1-2001-00173
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 1.733.920
EC contribution : € 1.579.120
Starting date : not yet determined
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Antonio di Giulio
Project website : not yet available
Dr Michael Heinrich
University of London
The School of Pharmacy
Center for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy
Brunswick Square, 29/39
WC1N 1AX London
United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 020 7753 5846
Fax: +44 020 7753 5909
E-mail: michael.heinrich @

The EU health food market requires new products that can be used as high quality health food supplements (HFS). Many rural areas, esp. in the Mediterranean, have locally used traditional foods with potential positive effects on health and on ageing-related pathologies that now are only known by elderly people. The Consortium intends to study this local knowledge ethnobotanically and contribute to the development of new HFS. We plan to evaluate >150 species of food plants in a variety of primary in vitro assays (incl. CRE for memory formation, PPAR mediated transcriptional activity for diabetes type II, a series of 4 cell-based antioxidant assays, inhibition of eicosanoid generation). Active samples will then be studied in mechanistic in vitro/in viva models focusing on the CNS and the cardiovascular system (CVS), e.g. free radical generation, membrane fluidity, antioxidative enzymes (CNS); vasorelaxant NO, vascular endothelial function (CVS).


The Consortium will contribute to the development of new nutraceuticals and identify plant extracts traditionally used in rural communities of Southern Italy, Greece and Southern Spain as dietary by-products with potent anti-oxidant, anti-diabetes and memory mediating activity. Additionally, it will contribute to a fuller evaluation and development of the Mediterranean diet with a focus on local dietary plants (and fungi) and plant derived products.

(expected) Results and achievements
  • Ethnobotanical documentation of food products of selected communities in Southern Italy, Spain, Greece incl. Crete
  • Comprehensive data on social, cultural, economical framework
  • Identification of active extracts/pure compounds (leads for new HFS)
  • Biochemical/pharmacological in vitro mechanisms/in vivo effects of selected species
  • Dissemination of ethnobotanical information in local/national languages


Universidad de Murcia
Dpto. Biología Vegetal
Facultad de Biología
OTRI Edificio SACE Campus de Espinardo
3100 Murcia
Harokopio University
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics
70 Eleftheriou Venizelou Ave.
176 71 Kallithea, Athens
Biocenter Niederursel
Biozentrum N260
Marie-Curie-Straße 9
60439 Frankfurt
Universita' degli Studi di Milano
Dipartimento di Scienze Farmacologiche
Via Balzaretti, 9
20133 Milano
Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd
Vitamins and Fine Chemical Division
Research & Development
4070 Basel

Fifth Framework Programme

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