Nutrigenomics (also known as nutritional genomics) is broadly defined as the relationship between nutrients, diet, and gene expression. The launch of the Human Genome Project in the 1990s and the subsequent mapping of human DNA sequencing ushered in the ‘era of big science’, jump-starting the field of nutrigenomics that we know today.
Although much of the early ‘hype’ around nutrigenomics has not yet come to fruition, the field remains nascent and fast-moving, with the potential to lay the foundations of truly ‘personalised nutrition’ approaches tailored to individuals. It also poses both ethical and regulatory challenges. There is potential for personal data to be misused, in addition to the question of whether it is appropriate to screen for certain genetic phenotypic predispositions where no proven ‘treatment’ exists. A broad spectrum of stakeholders must therefore engage with the topic, from governments to nutritionists and dietitians, GPs to research scientists.
Such is the hypothetical potential for nutrigenomics to change healthcare, that a 2003 UK Department of Health whitepaper forecast that with increased knowledge of genetics, “treatment, lifestyle advice, and monitoring aimed at disease prevention could then be tailored appropriately to suit each individual”. The establishment of pan-national organisations such as the European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NUGO) and the International Society for Nutrigenomics & Nutrigenetics has further served to increase the infrastructure and international collaboration around nutrigenomics research. Given the increasing global burden of nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases, nutrigenomics could help to develop more sustainable approaches to encouraging dietary change at a population-level, although a lack of human experimental trials remains a barrier for translating research into policy and practice.
Nutrigenomics as a research field very much depends on the recent development of advanced technologies that allow us to process a large amount of data relating to gene variants. These so-called ‘-omic’ technologies: genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and transcriptomic, allow us to identify and measure many different types of molecule simultaneously. This is important given that most chronic diseases are not caused by monogenic mutations (as in the case of leptin deficiency), or single genetic effects affected by a single dietary exposure (such as phenylalanine and PKU), but by complex interactions among a very large number of different gene variants.
“Journal of Genetics and Genomes” publishes peer-reviewed research work on the discoveries and current developments in the field of Genetics relating to all the domains of life, from humans to plants to livestock and other model organisms, headed by pre-eminent Editorial Board to ensure article quality and to provide unbiased and efficient publishing process.
Thanks and Regards,