Nutrigenomics: The New Frontier


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he following graph is taken from the National Human Genome Research Institute (http://www.genome.gov/27541954) where with the use of tax-payers’ money the government is telling us something that we already know from the marketplace: that there have been remarkable improvements in DNA sequencing technologies and data-production pipelines in recent years. The graph shows that the cost per Raw Megabase of DNA Sequence has dropped over 13 years from $8,000 to < $0.01 (under 1 cent) in 2014.

Especially indebted to the Human Genome Project completed in 2003—in which entrepreneur J. Craig Venter tied the government at decoding the human genome—scientists are increasingly investigating the interaction between genes and the bioactive compounds in food and how they influence an individual’s health. In order to assess this inter­action between genes and nutrients, the term “Nutrigenomics” was coined and first appeared in the scientific literature in 2001. Nutrigenomics is the new frontier of nutrition science.

According to genome.gov, “Nutrigenomics is a field that studies the relationship between nutrition and genes … [and that is] concerned with determining the roles each element plays and finding a healthy balance for individuals.” Healthy balance? That’s FDA talk!

The truth is that nutrigenomics is concerned with the alleviation of disease by using the various active compounds contained in food to align our genetic keys in our favor. Up- or down-regulating the right genes can make the difference between life and death.

The nutrigenomics article “Mulberry Down-Regulates Alzheimer’s Genes” —which appears on page 25 in this issue—references what well may be the first truly meaningful study using the microarray analytical tools of nutrigenomics. By skillfully employing the amazing “Alzheimer’s disease-reference pathway” found at the National Center for Biotechnology Information database at Kyoto University in Japan, the researchers have looked into the future and shown that a cornucopia of findings are rapidly coming our way. The Chinese researchers identify and explain some of the most important gene mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease. This will set a standard for what is what is on the near horizon: better health and more longevity.

Live long and prosper,

Will Block

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