A Science for Nutrition, Health and Wellness in the Post-Genomic Era
Presentation of the Conference
Since the human genome was completely sequenced in 2003, a new post-genomic era appeared in the “life sciences”. It was soon clear that, with the conclusion of this ambitious project, new paths were traced, leading to improve human health and well-being.
From genomics, that studies the structure of the whole genome of an organism through its mapping, three other major -omics sciences were originated: transcriptomics, which studies and defines the entire set of transcripts (m-RNA), in relation to different environmental factors that can have effects on the comprehensive biological pathways; proteomics, which deals with the study of the whole protein complement of an organism, including species resulting from changes occurring after the m-RNA translation; and finally metabolomics, addressing the definition of a “molecular fingerprint” linked to all the small molecules of metabolites, which are the end product of gene expression.
Transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics are all dynamic realms, as affected by interactions between the body and external stimuli. It is for this reason that a great interest has developed relating to the influences that biotic and abiotic factors exert on gene expression. Among the abiotic factors, of predominant importance is the action of food components in the regulation of genes, which may intervene, in a positive or negative way, on the risk of occurrence of certain human diseases. This approach is fundamental to the science of nutrigenomics, the principal purpose of which is aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which dietary intake modulates the function of genes and, hence, metabolism.
In this context, it is clear that nutrition, when studied at the molecular level using a holistic view, acquires dignity of –omics science. Nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics, is therefore an integrated science that would explain, at genetic and molecular level, how nutrients, commonly taken by the diet, may alter the expression and/or the genetic structure of an individual, thus altering the balance between health and disease.
It is with this approach that questions related to a proper nutrition must be addressed, based on the concept that food and drink affect in several ways the health state of each individual consumer.
The ability to identify the relationship between diet and disease is a key element in the precise primary preventive strategies aimed at improving the health conditions of the population and of the individual.
In this vein, we must also consider how, during the evolution of food consumption, the introduction of new nutritional factors, associated with a substantial changes in the way of producing foods, has an impact on the health of the human organism.
Special attention deserve the effects of (bio)technological changes on the genetic and molecular composition of the food, that ultimately could affect the interactions between nutrients and the human genome.
Indeed, the progressive development of molecular biology has made it possible to prepare numerous protocols for genetic manipulation of plants and animals intended for human consumption. This development has provided new opportunities in the food sector in terms of increasing production and improving quality.
At the same time, however, the introduction of biotechnology in food has raised considerable doubts, especially among consumers who demand new concepts and new parameters defining (Total Food Quality) and ensure (Food safety) the total quality of a food.
A multidisciplinary approach is required, dealing with the study of food and humans, from genes to metabolites, including the analysis of nutritional components, both endogenous or introduced by (bio)technology, of healthy components and allergenic or toxic substances, such as xenobiotics, as well as the evaluation of presence of pathogenic microorganisms and their toxic metabolites.
The focus is then to be put to the study of all interactions in order to give better regulations and to ensure security and quality to food productions.
Therefore, the application of the -omics approach in food sciences (Foodomics) plays an important role in the understanding of the nutritive potentials of a conventional or modified food; on the other hand, allows us to better understand why not all foodstuffs can be eaten by everyone, so encouraging the development of a "technology" for producing food made to measure, or of a "science" for the preparation of personalized diets.
The international conference "Food-omics: a science for nutrition, health and wellness in the post-genomic era" will touch different topics with five sessions that address the definition of molecular quality of conventional food, the effects of (bio)technological processing on the molecular profile of food, the interaction between nutrients and human genes, the study of the nutritional and general health state of humans through the definition of their metabolic profile, the beneficial or toxic effects of individual classes of substances isolated from food, and more yet.
The conference will be held in Cesena, a city located in the Italian territory marked by a strong eno-gastronomic tradition, location of the Food Sciences Campus of Alma Mater - University of Bologna.
The conference will consist of invited lectures organized in thematic sessions covering, as much as possible for a two-days frame, the comprehensive genomics, proteomics and metabo(l/n)omics of food and its interactions with humans. Due to the multidisciplinary coverage of conference, all speakers will offer a general view of their leading research work.
We are looking forward to seeing you in Cesena
Francesco Capozzi Giuseppe Placucci
Chair of the Scientific Committee Chair of the Organizing Committee
The final program is available for Download