Our work

Immune Health

Immune health is crucial to being (and staying) healthy. The immune system plays a significant role in homeostasis and is involved in many disorders, such as obesity, cardiovascular or neurological disorders. TNO is working to gain a better understanding of the risk-benefit factors in food and their relationships with respect to the onset and/or perpetuation of immunological diseases.

TNO is exploring approaches to support immune health. Geert Houben, Principal Scientist: “We want to better identify how different immune processes interact with each other. For example, we know that lifelong capacity for immunocompetence is determined early in life. If you have insight into the mechanisms behind this, then you can make adjustments to improve immunocompetence. Keeping immune health optimal is very important in the overall balance of costs in healthcare. If we can reduce the body’s level of inflammation, then some ageing processes can also be delayed.”

Determining the effect of interventions

TNO helps parties to unravel the mechanisms and effects of a substance or intervention on immune health, including but not limited to developing markers to allow monitoring of the effects. We also support parties in weighing the risks and effectiveness of certain interventions, using a risk-benefit assessment to determine whether the benefits of these interventions clearly outweigh the risks of such treatments. We do this for parties that are concerned with product development for prevention, therapy and diagnostics relating to immunological diseases. Applications are foreseen in medicines and new foods, among others.

Call to potential partners

TNO wants to boost knowledge about immune health and strengthen collaborations with other institutions on food and pharma research. Houben: “We look at the whole field of immunological science and want to find out how all interacting mechanisms fit together.” There are a considerable number of challenges which we all share and can tackle together in joint research. We therefore call on parties to join our non-profit shared research programme to boost R&D of products that promote immune health.

For more information, check out the website of the Food Allergy SRP.

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Dr. Geert Houben

  • food allergy
  • allergy
  • food toxicology
  • immunotoxicology
  • Risk assessment and risk management


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