NEW YORK, May 31(GenomeWeb News) - A New Center of Excellence in "Nutrigenomics" is getting cooking in Auckland, New Zealand, with a generous helping of NZ$19.2 million ($12.1 million) in financing from the New Zealand government, according to a report in today's New Zealand Herald.
The Center, which is a partnership between the University of Auckland and the government agencies Crop and Food Research, AgResearch, and HortResearch, is studying the relationship between human genes and diet.
It is being directed by Lynnette Ferguson, a professor of nutrition at Auckland University, according to the report.
Julian Heyes, a scientist in Crop and Food Reseach, told the newspaper that the research might provide benefits to people with Crohn's disease, a condition that causes bowel irritation and is in many cases linked to a specific gene mutation. The research would examine which diet is optimal for people with Crohn's disease and why, said Heyes.
In the past year this area of "nutrigenomics," or nutritional genomics, has begun to take shape and several firms have seen this as a new market opportunity for genomics technologies. For example, in late 2003 Genaissance therapeutics licensed its HAP genotyping technology to consumer products firm Sciona for this type of research.
Additionally, scientists have begun to explore the ethical considerations surrounding nutritional genomics.
Several nutritional genomics conferences have additionally been held to provide a forum for research in the field. The next such conference, the European Nutrigenomics Conference, will be held in Waginengen, the Netherlands, between Sept. 8th and 10th this year. (See http://nutrigene.4t.com/nugo-week%202004.pdf). It is sponsored by NUGO, the European Nutrigenomics Organization.