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EINSTEIN (Excellence initiative for nutrifood-based theranostics for healthy European society)

press release to the project, opens a file in a new window

EINSTEIN’s potential to increase the availability of organic nutrifood

Phytonutrients are naturally produced bioactive molecules, nowadays often referred to as “specialized metabolites”. Their roles include fighting off pests and protecting the plant. Upon their consumption, these bioactives can confer health benefits beyond their nutrient composition and prevent disease in humans. They are found in various colors that make food pretty, but colors also signify nutritional power. From the time that humans started farming, selection and breeding have been practiced which had major effects on food choices and dietary compositions. These activities have mainly been targeted toward yield, taste, and general nutritional value, but during recent years the interest in specialized metabolites is increasing. At the same time, we are only at the beginning of

discovering the possibilities of this astonishing molecular diversity. With the focus of EINSTEIN on intestinal health, compound classes of specific interest include various types of fibers, as well as polyphenols, terpenoids and glucosinolates. The ambition of EINSTEIN is to identify genetic variation of food-grade and micronutrient-rich crops with the potential of increasing essential nutrients and specialized metabolites by future breeding and their usage in designing nutrifood-based sensors for theranostics.

The potential to establish an innovative organic cultivation technology system

Organic agriculture employs a combination of the best methods of traditional agriculture and modern technology with the objectives to build soil, reduce inputs, have minimal impact on the environment, and be sustainable for the land and the farmer. Present-day organic growers use tried-and-true practices such as crop rotation, growing a diversity of crops, planting cover crops, and adding organic matter to the soil. At the same time, most organic production systems include use of modern equipment, improved cultivars, and new technologies such as dripirrigation, soil and plant testing technologies, and biocontrols. Cover crops suppress weeds reducing herbicide use by roughly 50% (USDA). Some cover crop species such as winter cereals, brassicas, and legumes are even allelopathic. They produce chemicals that reduce weed seed germination. On the other side, intercropping and trap-crops discourage many pests and can be used in organic production. The ambition of EINSTEIN is the ground-breaking eco-approach of organic turn key-based-cultivation technology of food-grade crops by increasing the diversity of crops using a combination of cover crops, intercropping, and trap crops in agroecology conditions of the Vojvodina region.

The potential of using organic nutrifood biowaste as raw material for biosensors

Transforming the medical sensor industry toward producing more sustainable alternatives, such as biowastebased medical sensors, is an essential enabler of the bio-based circular economy. Biowaste reuse has several economic advantages: (1) its low cost; (2) its abundance; (3) the high content of bioactive molecule; and (4) the financial support received by governments eager to promote eco-compatible and pollution reducing practices. For example, potato and citrus peels have more nutrients than the rest of the potatoes (sharecare.com) and citrus fruits (www.besthealthmag.ca). Eggshells are one of the best calcium-rich foods (draxe.com) and good raw material in biomedical science. The industrial production of wine generates annually tons of waste that can and must be properly reused to reduce its polluting load and increase the availability of passive ingredients to be used in human nutrition. The ambition of EINSTEIN is a ‘best from waste’ approach where organic biowaste with nutritional and bioactive properties will be identified and used for fabrication of nutriwaste-based medical sensors. One of the main ideas is to create zero-waste Fruška gora wine route (the oldest National park in Serbia) where over 60 families produce wine and have tons of waste that EINSTEIN will turn into ground-breaking inventions.

The potential to design nutrifood- and nutriwaste-based theranostics

Biodegradable or bioresorbable materials-based sensors for body monitoring, diagnostic, and therapeutic medical applications have emerged as attractive alternatives for invasive and non-invasive health monitoring. The ability for real-time monitoring of specific biomarkers would expressively improve early-stage detection of postsurgical infection, and personalized treatments. Besides, they are ideal for single-shot measurements in point of care diagnostics as they are environmentally friendly and reduce medical waste. A variety of natural compounds, including bio-organics, such as sodium alginate and even foodstuffs, like charcoal, rice paper, potato starch, gelatin seaweed, and cheese, have been used as natural substrates for biodegradable devices. Green flexible electronics based on starch, which can be abundantly harvested from the roots, stems and seeds of the rice, corn, wheat, potatoes and legumes have great potentials in the development of environmental friendly biosensors due to its cost-effectiveness, good processability, and biodegradability. The ambition of EINSTEIN is innovative organic nutrifood- and nutriwaste-based theranostics for health monitoring and early detection of various biomarkers and digestive cancers, with therapeutic effects.

The potential to design a model of co-working between academia and industry

One of the main drivers of company success is the ability to innovate. While universities tend to support longer term upstream research, industry-based innovation must satisfy clients in the short run. Universities’ focus is more on scientific challenges far from the market, pushing technological frontiers, and less on monetizing of new products. Due to rapid growth in information technology and knowledge-based work, the concept of knowledge management and knowledge co-creation has gained momentum in recent years. However, other fields of science are still neglected. The link between universities and industry connects knowledge advancement with practice development. Drawing on evolutionary game theory and human behavior modeling, which proved to be helpful for the understanding of various economic issues, many authors proposed a conceptual framework that considers innovation efficiency, knowledge complementarity and knowledge sharing, but still there is the problem in collaboration between academia and industry and their mutual understanding. Therefore, the ambition of EINSTEIN is to choose highly-skilled experts with great research backgrounds and managing skills, who will be competent to moderate between academia and industry, and in future, generate the educational program for this key high-demand profile.

1.1.2024 - 31.12.2028