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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 1 May 2006
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World experts Lynn Ferguson and Jim Kaput explain why cell models and animal models are so important in their research.

Transcript

Morrinsville CollegeWhat techniques and tests are used in nutrigenomics research?

Jim KaputThe NCMHD Centre of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics The idea of a model system, or a model cell, is if you would like that cell to respond as closely as possible to what happens in the body. Sometimes you have to go through or make your model by adding genes or subtracting genes, but that's the idea. You want the response there to replicate what happens [in a human system].

Lynn Ferguson (Nutrigenomics New Zealand The particular cell model we are working with is a kidney cell, and it's got a gene it in that is associated with Crohn's disease in most of the population, probably fifteen percent. It is quite a high frequency in the New Zealand population. We've got the variant and we've got the normal cell group, so we've got a pair of cell lines which act normally and one which don't. We've hooked up a luciferase reporter to this, so instead of actually having to go and measure it, the cell actually lights up if this is being expressed. So simply looking at a flash of light, its presence or absence and what is happening there, we can get a pretty fair idea as to whether the cell is functioning normally or not.

Jim KaputThe NCMHD Centre of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics : So it's a good model to start with and you learn a lot. We have learned an incredible amount by doing that but we always have to go to a normal system later to double check what we have found.

Lynn Ferguson (Nutrigenomics New Zealand When we have identified foods that look as though they are going to be useful, we can then put them into animal experiments and look into the question of whether they can benefit animals.