The measurement of beneficial effects of nutritional products on health remains a hurdle in the innovation pipeline of many companies. This is partly due to the lack of accepted single biomarkers that directly relate to health improvement. Furthermore, food composition and the physiological regulation of health are characterized by high degrees of complexity and variability. To show cause-effect relationships it is required to demonstrate changes in biomarkers as a result of a dietary intervention in human volunteers. Until now, however, most accepted biomarkers relate to risk factors for disease development, while observed effects should be convincingly considered as health benefits.
The ability to adapt
The central assumption of the PhenFlex project, an international public private research program that was initiated by TNO, is to define health as “the ability to adapt” to perturbations that affect physiological homeostasis. In this view, the “ability to adapt” is regarded as indicator for maintenance of physiological function, or resilience of the system. Loss of this ability may lead to development of disease. The system resilience approach includes application of a short term challenge test, followed by assessment of response profiles of multiple biomarkers related to maintenance of health. The objective of PhenFlex is to substantiate improvement of “metabolic resilience” by complying to personalized healthy dieting advice. Moreover, the initiative also entails to generate acceptance of ‘improvement of resilience’ as health benefit by regulatory authorities.
TNO in the Netherlands, as acknowledged leader in this field, is working at the front edge of exploring the “ability to adapt” or “resilience” concept and has been actively involved in various academic and industrial research consortia so far. Within the current consortium, the partners bundle strengths for further development of the methodology and broader acceptance of the concept by the global community.
Personalized approaches in healthy individuals
There is growing awareness and body of evidence that personalized approaches, both exploiting the individual’s health status and motivational aspects, bring additional advantages in optimizing health. Within PhenFlex it will be investigated if it is possible to obtain even better individual improvements, by providing personalized dietary recommendations during the dietary intervention study.
In addition, PhenFlex will provide a first insight into whether metabolic resilience can be improved in rehabilitating COPD patients in the clinic of CIRO+, the Netherlands. A positive outcome may serve as guidance for further development of personalized treatment schemes for this group of patients.
Public Private Partnership
In this 3-year Public Private Partnership, the partners bring in both in-cash and in-kind contributions. The partners in this consortium are TNO, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, BASF, BY-HEALTH, Biofortis Mérieux NutriSciences, CIRO+ and ILSI Europe. Co-financing is provided by TKI allowance from the TKI-Agri&Food Topsector. The total budget of the multidisciplinary project is over 1.5 million Euros.
Alexia Boutin - Communication & Marketing Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org - Biofortis Mérieux NutriSciences
About Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (PCH): PCH develops, manufactures and markets leading non-prescription medicines, vitamins and nutritional products. We strive to bring new and better solutions to market that help consumers around the world support their health and enhance personal well-being.
About the BASF Nutrition & Health division: BASF Nutrition & Health provides a comprehensive product and service portfolio for the human and animal nutrition, pharmaceutical and flavor & fragrance industries. With innovative solutions and modern technologies we help our customers improve their business efficiency and the sustainability of their products. Our human nutrition solutions include vitamins and carotenoids, plant sterols, emulsifiers and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamins and carotenoids also form an important part of our animal nutrition portfolio, as do other feed additives such as trace elements, enzymes and organic acids. We provide the pharmaceutical industry with a broad range of excipients and selected large-volume active pharmaceutical ingredients such as ibuprofen and omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, we offer aroma ingredients such as citral, geraniol and L-menthol. BASF Nutrition & Health operates sites in Europe, North America, South America and in Asia-Pacific.
About BY-HEALTH: Established in October 1995, BY-HEALTH introduced dietary supplements into Chinese indirect selling market systematically in 2002, and grew into a leading brand and iconic company in this industry. On December 15, 2010, BY-HEALTH went on public listing on the GEM in Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Presently, BY-HEALTH ranks No.1 in sales volume at retail terminals of Chinese dietary supplement market, in which it has been well ahead for 15 consecutive years. http://www.by-health.com/en
About Biofortis Mérieux NutriSciences: As part of Mérieux NutriSciences, Biofortis supports the food and health industries by conducting research projects with a unique nutrition and analytical service. A one-stop shop CRO offering innovative services including clinical assessments, microbiota-related research, sensory evaluation and consumer studies.
About ILSI Europe: Founded in 1986, ILSI Europe fosters collaboration among the best scientists from industry, academia and the public sector to provide evidence-based scientific solutions and to pave the way forward in nutrition, food safety, consumer trust and sustainability. To deliver science of the highest quality and integrity, scientists collaborate and share their unique expertise in expert groups, workshops, symposia and resulting publications. Whereas ILSI Europe’s activities are mainly funded by its member companies, academic experts involved in our activities contribute through their voluntary work. In addition, ILSI Europe receives funding from the European Union-funded projects they partner with and projects initiated by Member States’ national authorities.
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