We are what we eat. Nutrigenomics, the study of diet-gene interaction, can tell us about the effect our diet has on our genes and therefore provides scientific evidence for a healthy diet. Lipogenesis, the process by which fatty acids are produced from carbohydrates, is being studied at the molecular level. Ultimately the results obtained will provide data for creating tailor-made diets and therapeutic drug targets for the treatment and prevention of obesity, hyperlipidaemia, atherosclerosis and insulin resistance. In another project we use a yeast-based assay system to monitor the effect of food and beverages on genome stability which is known to be a contributory factor to colon cancer.
In this context we have demonstrated that tea-drinking may be beneficial to the integrity of the genetic material.
The use of egg white in the food industry is limited due to its coagulation and allergenic properties and limited shelf life. We are studying ways to modify the structure of egg albumin to improve its emulsifying and water-binding properties in emulsions, such as mayonnaise; to reduce its allergenic properties and simplify the spray drying process. The molecular bases for the effects of carbohydrates, salt, lipids and heat on protein structure are being investigated.
The research will lead to the development of a product that can be used as a non-allergenic, protein-based fat replacement in food emulsions.
In the area of dairy science there is emphasis on the relationship between milk protein structure and functional properties, such as emulsification and gelation, including investigation of the kinetics of heat-induced aggregation of whey protein-stabilised emulsions; the emulsifying properties of hydrolysed milk protein, and the relationship between gel structure and texture in model cheese. Computer simulation allows modelling protein adsorption at surfaces and protein denaturation and gelation.
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