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MU-Varna Took Part in an International Project Investigating the Impact of Food on Health

From 8th to 10th June 2015, Varna (Palace Hotel, Sunny Day Resort) hosted a workshop of the participants in the international Nutri Tech Project, whose partner on behalf of Bulgaria is Medical University - Varna. At the meeting 34 representatives of 16 partner organizations from 12 European countries and the USA presented data and results obtained in the intervention involving volunteers who had been following a particular diet. The four-year project is targeted at finding a specific biomarker - an indicator of the impact of nutrition on health.

The project started in 2012 with the financial support of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, England, Bulgaria, the USA are among the participants. The study was conducted with 80 volunteers in England, men and women, aged over 50, overweight and having common baseline indicators. For 18 months they followed a special diet regime prepared by specialists at an optimal ratio of fats, proteins and carbohydrates and 20% reduction of caloric intake. The results indicate improvement in insulin resistance, improvement in lipid profile and an average weight loss of 5 kg.
"The diet, kept by the volunteers, was identical for all participants in the study and it was in no way impossible or difficult to follow. However, over the last years we've been talking about personalized medicine, so personalized nutrition has  also been getting more and more popular," said Prof. Diana Ivanova, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Medical University - Varna and a project coordinator from Varna Medical University. "Our goal is to find biomarkers related to metabolism through which we can easily, quickly and inexpensively specify the optimal individual nutrition diet for every single person", said Prof. Ivanova. The project results will also be applied in the study of the relation of the role of nutrition and the socially significant diseases. Prof. Ivanova is positive that food can also be a cure. "Food is the first cure and then drugs follow. Evolution has created us in such a way as first of all to rely on food." She also underlined that a person could have a genetic predisposition to obesity, but that might not be necessarily manifested because the way of life, the environment and nutrition are the major risk factors for it.

The clinical biochemical analyses under the international project have been conducted in the Laboratory of Nutrigenomics at MU-Varna. Established in 2008, the laboratory is specialized in doing research in the field of Nutrigenomics. "We have been working very closely with the clinical departments at the University, doing the necessary for their work studies. Recently we have been conducting genetic studies, as well as studies related to the predisposition to particular diseases." Furthermore, the healing properties of plants have been studied here, trying to establish the mechanisms and scientific evidence of the familiar in folk medicine impact of the variety of herbs. The active research work in the laboratory is also evidenced by the fact that nine research projects have been accomplished here.

"I am very grateful to Prof. Ivanova and her team from Medical University - Varna, because first of all they are outstanding professionals, and in addition they were helping me in my work as a project coordinator," said Dr. Ben van Ommen, a coordinator of the 7th Framework Programme and a leader of the research group in TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research). "I feel very excited these three days, when each participant is presenting the outcome of their work for the past three years. I believe that we will find what we are looking for." Nutri Tech is about to analyze and summarize the results during the remaining one-year period before the completion of the project.​