Objectives of BIOCLAIMS project

The food and health relationship focuses on maintenance of optimal health, both in terms of physiology and new European legislation. Yet, most accepted biomarkers quantify (intermediate) disease endpoints or damage. This has led to major problems in demonstrating health benefits and establishing health claims, and blocks competitive economic and health developments in the food sector. New 'nutrigenomics' applications as developed within the European Research Network of Excellence on Nutrigenomics (NuGO, 2004-2010) provide new biomarker concepts and strategies to characterize and quantify physiological functions related to food and health. This paves the way for the development of a new generation of robust nutrigenomic-based biomarkers and their potentially related health claims made on foods.

The BIOCLAIMS project will develop new biomarkers by exploiting this new concept of “health biomarkers” through quantification of the robustness of the homeostatic mechanisms involved in maintaining optimal health, based on the assumption that the ability to maintain homeostasis in a continuously challenged environment and changing physiology is key for healthy ageing. Mechanisms involved will be investigated during a series of food interventions in animal models and humans using “predisposed” conditions. Human models of presumed impaired robustness in maintaining metabolic and vascular health (caloric restriction, obesity, a pro-inflammatory genotype, an impaired renal function, or a combination thereof) will be employed to study the responses of established and novel biomarkers to the challenging of homeostasis and to selected food interventions (n-3 PUFA, antioxidant vitamins, olive oil, glucosinolates, coffee). Both advanced analytical methodology including nutrigenomics tools (transcriptomics, metabolomics, fatty acid composition, adipokine profile, macromolecule damage) and “whole body” physiological assessments will be exploited to develop a series of new biomarkers. Gender differences will be addressed in both the human and animal studies.

The BIOCLAIMS project thus delivers a series of robust biomarkers predictive of a healthy metabolic phenotype during ageing, based on stressors of homeostasis, These biomarkers will be fully characterized and evaluated for practical application in human nutrition, and compared to traditional ones.

BIOCLAIMS has the following specific objectives:

  • Identifying and characterizing nutrigenomic-based, early, robust biomarkers predictive of a healthy metabolic phenotype during ageing and/or facing stressors to homeostasis;
  • validating these novel biomarkers against traditional markers; and
  • testing their response to bioactive food components in animal and human models.