The Nestlé Research Center (NRC) in Switzerland and King's College London have committed to a six-month research project to, “examine the interactions between genes and food ingredients, and how they can affect human health."
Researchers are looking at the impact on human health of changes in gene regulation.
In a statement Nestlé said of the project that will begin later this year: “[The project] will look at how our genes and their encoded proteins determine important bodily functions; including how efficiently we metabolise food, respond to the environment and detoxify our bodies from potentially harmful agents.”
More specifically King’s said the research, “focuses on the analysis of large-scale maps of pairwise Protein-Protein Interactions (PPI), transcription factor-target (TFT) interactions, three-dimensional structure of protein complexes and other complementary datasets to enable a detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms at the basis of protein function and its perturbation.”
“In particular, the interplay of PPI and TFT in DNA methylation (Epigenomics) will be investigated.”
Nestlé spokesperson Hilary Green said the project is part of an Interchange Award that will see scientists from NRC spend six months at King’s College and vice versa.
King’s College’s Dr Franca Fraternali and her colleagues from the university’s Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, will have access to the NRC’s state-of-the-art bioinformatics facilities in the Swiss city of Lausanne, Nestlé said.
Dr James Holzwarth, a senior scientist from the Nestlé Research Center, will temporarily locate to the King’s College laboratories learning new techniques in the analysis of PPI data developed at the university.
Dr Holzwarth said: “No one can work in isolation. Industry might be more advanced in one area, while academia might be more advanced in another. By pooling relevant resources, we can help to guide each other’s work."
“This is a research project that is part of a broader partnership,” Green added, noting Nestlé regularly collaborated with institutions such as the Imperial College, also in London, and other institutions globally.
Dr Silva-Zolezzi, head of the functional genomics group at Nestlé, said: “Our main research aim is to understand how certain ingredients can benefit our health. We believe that increasing our understanding of protein-protein interaction networks is very relevant to our nutritional approach and will help guide our research.”
To take part in the partnership King’s College London for the first time won the Industry Interchange Award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).