There is now increasing scientific evidence that some foods and food components have beneficial physiological effects over and above the provision of the basic nutrients.
The concept of functional foods was born in Japan. In the 1980s, health authorities in Japan recognized that an improved quality of life accompanies increasing life expectancy for the expanding number of elderly people in the population if health care costs were to be controlled. The concepts worldwide were developed specifically to promote health or reduce the risk of disease.
Today, science has moved on from the classical concepts of avoiding nutrient deficiencies and basic nutritional adequacy to the concept of “positive”, “optimal” or “functional” nutrition. The research focus has shifted more to the identification of active components in foods that have the potential or can optimize physical wellbeing and may also reduce the risk of disease.
Researchers of ITMO University have created functional food products for prevention of hormone-dependent tumors within Russian Academic Excellence program (Project 5-100). Chrunchy mueslies, muesli bars, oatmeal cookies and instant oats developed by the Department of Plant-Based Product Nutritional Biotechnology of ITMO University jointly with N.N. Petrov National Medical Research Center of Oncology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation contain certain dozes of bioactive micronutrients ‒ bio-iodine, selenium and lycopene. According to the researches, these substances act as anticancer antioxidants and reduce the risk of cancer at various sites (the content of bioactive micronutrients per product portion: soy isoflavones – 50 mg, lycopene – 5 mg, organically bound iodine – 150 mcg).
According to Vladimir Bespalov, Project Manager, Professor of the Department of Plant-Based Product Nutritional Biotechnology of ITMO University, Head of the Laboratory for Cancer Chemoprevention and Oncopharmacology of N.N. Petrov National Medical Research Center of Oncology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, the quality and quantity of anticancer susbstances is determined so as to ensure that the product works to prevent cancer in a particular organ, specifically, lungs, mammary gland, prostate, large intestine, stomach.
“These are the most common cancers in men and women, they cause the highest mortality and result in the greatest economic loss from oncological diseases,” the researcher added. He also said that impact-activating technologies are used for product grain base (oats) treatment, which allow to achieve a significant improvement in bioaccessibility (digestibility) of both the food ingredients of the grain and the anticancer substances that are added.
Vasilisa Shirokova, a graduate student of ITMO University, supposes that the project will allow to shift preventive treatment from medicinal drug on food products and to set a trend for healthy eating. “At present, functional food products for prevention of oncological diseases are practically not available in the market,” she added.
The researchers predict the potential number of consumers in the first two years following the product introduction into the market to amount to 30-50 thousand people and the potential market volume in the first two years after the product introduction to equal about 250 million rubles per year.
At the moment, the ITMO researchers are getting ready to conduct preclinical trials in order to obtain the required certificates and plan to patent their product subsequently.
Source: ITMO / Project 5-100