Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Research Station ALP, Schwarzenburgstr.161, CH-3003 Bern

Nutrigenomics: science or fiction

Research in the domain of human nutrition is marked by the emergence of nutrigenomics, a science that bases itself on three decades of developments in life sciences (medicine, biochemistry, molecular biology), microtechnics and informatics. The sequencing of the human genome has opened the door to a holistic approach in which genetic material, proteins and metabolites are characterized in a global way. This approach was developed for pharmacology and now finds a new application in human nutrition by allowing a comprehensive understanding of the effects of food and nutrients on the metabolism and on the prevention of chronic diseases. In this context, ALP has started a nutrigenomics project in order to select bacteria producing dairy fermented products that are beneficial to health. Nutrigenetics, a subdomain of nutrigenomics, goes further in the analysis of the effects of nutrition in that it determines how the specific genotype of individuals influences their physiological response to food. This approach may lead to a personalized nutrition for which the commercial, social and ethical consequences remained be evaluated and regulated. Nutrigenomics will deeply transform the landscape of nutrition and nutritional sciences and therefore requires a training- and an information effort towards the public and professionals of the health and nutrition sector.

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