Current activities

Natural products, neutraceuticals and disease

Includes the study of advanced glycation endproduct (AGE)-induced markers of oxidative stress and pro-inflammation. Current focus includes AGE quantification (carboxymethyllysine, carboxyethyllysine), AGE-RAGE interactions, DNA damage and telomere integrity in understanding molecular mechanism linking Type 2 diabetes and neurological disease (AD). The research also focuses on the use of novel bioactives in attenuating AGE-induced signaling cascade to enable a better understanding on the multiplicity of physiological pathways involved in treating disease complications.  Emphasis is placed on the role of neutraceuticals and Australian medicinal plants and foods in the management of hyperglycemia and hypertension. This research is being undertaken in collaboration with Dr Susan Semple (UniSA) and Prof. Michael Fenech (CSIRO).

For more information about this research, please contact Dr Permal Deo.

Bioactivity of foods

Oxidative metabolism is essential for cell survival however it generates free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) as side effect that could cause formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), oxidative damage which are linked to the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases. Interestingly, AGEs are also formed in thermally processed food. The contribution of exogenously-formed dietary AGE to an individual’s physiological AGE load is currently a subject of intensive research since the amounts of AGE ingested in the normal diet by healthy subjects are reported to be much higher than those in plasma and tissues.

While the body has its own defence system against ROS, lifestyle mediated disease has been reported to significantly reduce this. Enhancements of the body’s antioxidant defence mechanism through diet are common approach in reducing the levels of oxidative stress. This research focuses on model systems in understanding the mechanism behind the impact of foods on human health. The aim is to investigate the antioxidant activities and antiglycation properties of dietary supplements, functional foods and food components (e.g. nutritional supplements, queen garnet plum, mushrooms, fermented foods, whey proteins, sports drinks or legumes). This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Dr  Evangeline Mantzioris (UniSA), Dr Miguel de Barros Lopes (UniSA), and  Dr Michael Natzel (University of Queensland)

For more information on this research, please contact Dr Permal Deo

Food Safety and quality

With an ever increasing incidence of foodborne disease, continuous identification of novel peptides with antimicrobial properties is needed. In addition, in food processing, strict monitoring process and new sanitizers are explored to reduce the microbial levels reducing the risk of foodborne outbreak. Current research in this area focuses on: (1) use of natural products as antimicrobial inhibitors in cook-chill and ready-to-eat products: (2) assessment of new food sanitizers in reducing microbial contamination in seafood, minimally processed salads and meat; and (3) monitoring and evaluation of critical control and quality control point in food processing. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Prof. Darren Trott (University of Adelaide), Dr Rietie Venter (UniSA), ECAS4 Pty Ltd, and food industries.

For more information on this research, please contact Dr Permal Deo.

The importance of microbial ecology to foods and wine

This activity includes identifying key aroma compounds in wine and determining the role of microorganisms in flavour release; the use of high-throughput sequencing methods to study microbial ecology of foods; and isolating novel yeast from natural environments to understand the domestication of food microorganisms and to improve flavour diversity in fermented foods. This research is being undertaken in collaboration with the Australian Wine Research Institute.

For more information on this research, please contact Dr Miguel de Barros Lopes.

Nutritional influences on reproduction and fertility

One in 10 couples experience difficulty conceiving a child within Australia. Research is being undertaken to explore the influence of nutrition on reproduction through 1) the use of dietary supplements to improve fertility, 2) rat studies and clinical trials to measure the effect of supplements to extend the age of menopause, 3) the influence of nutrition and  inflammation and gut permeability and integrity through the production of LPS on both male and female reproductive function (particularly in women with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), 4) influence of gut microbiota on male and female reproductive function. This research is being undertaking in collaboration with Prof K. Tremellen (Repromed).

For more information on this research, please contact Dr Karma Pearce.

Areas of study and research

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