Between 15 and 20% of the people in the western world suffer from inflammatory diseases. Inflammatory processes also play a central role in many other disorders, such as in cardiovascular & neurological diseases, diabetes, pathology in obesity, and side effects of cancer immunotherapy.
The functioning of the immune system is driven by inflammatory balances. These balances depend on a complex interplay between intrinsic (host) and extrinsic (chemical and microbial) factors. The total of all extrinsic factors (our exposome) is assumed to explain 70 to 80% of disease. Our food is a major source of exposure to extrinsic factors, but we still have limited knowledge on which and how food-borne factors affect our immune system.
Controlling the Immune Exposome
Prevention, management and therapy of inflammatory diseases by definition is through control and modulation of extrinsic factors; by Controlling the Immune Exposome. Understanding the key extrinsic factors involved and the mechanisms and interactions through which these interact with our immune system is crucial for the development of safe and effective interventions and management practices for allergic and inflammatory diseases.
Our Controlling the Immune Exposome program focusses on the development and application of methods to:
- Identify and characterize extrinsic factors, with a focus on food-borne factors, that influence the inflammatory state of our body, aiming at the discovery of new leads for (adjunctive) interventions in immune health
- Assess immune health benefits and risks of extrinsic factors, such as those of food ingredients and pharmaceuticals
- Identify (new) application areas for existing food and/or pharma products
- Optimize future study designs (biomarker discovery, assay identification, dosing optimization)
- Assess and manage the allergenic risks of residues of proteins or novel or modified food proteins
We connect our knowledge on allergic and inflammatory diseases with our tools and capability for advanced data analysis. We combine multiple information sources (literature, databases, clinical trial data, etc.), use advanced data analyses approaches, and develop advanced statistical models/algorithms to analyze and predict outcomes of exposures. This approach enables us to support authorities and companies in the development and improvement of population and personalized prevention, management and therapy of allergic and inflammatory diseases.
Our main current research areas are:
- Discovery of food-derived leads for immune health interventions
- Allergenicity assessment of novel and modified food proteins
- Food allergen risk assessment and management
- Systems approaches to support immune health-promoting strategies
Collaboration with the University Medical Center Utrecht
Led by Prof. Dr. Geert Houben, TNO and UMC Utrecht joined forces and closely collaborate in their research on food-borne factors in allergic and inflammatory diseases through a Research Chair at the Medical Faculty of the Utrecht University.
Collaborate with us
Our experts in allergic and inflammatory diseases and advanced data analysis are ready to support you.