The £650,000 three-year project led by Professor Ian Clark from the University of East Anglia with additional funding from Arthritis UK, will examine whether sulforaphane – a compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables – could prove a key weapon in the fight against osetoarthritis.
The aim of the study is to establish whether sufficient quantities of sulforaphane – which has been shown to block the enzymes that cause joint destruction in osteoarthritis in the laboratory - can get into human joints and exert similar effects in the human body, said Clark.
"Developing new strategies for combating age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis is vital to improve the quality of life for sufferers but also to reduce the economic burden on society."
Clark’s team will also investigate the effects of diallyl disulphide, a compound in garlic that has also been seen to slow the destruction of cartilage in laboratory tests.
Other projects to secure cash from the last tranche of DRINC funding cover a range of topics from increasing dietary fibre in white bread to reducing the saturated fat percentage in milk through manipulating the diet of dairy cows.
Green tea and skin protection
DRINC is a multi-million-pound partnership between research councils and food and drink companies including Cadbury, Danone and Nestlé to fund research into diet and health.
10% of the money comes from industry with the rest coming from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council.
The first round of DRINC funding awarded £4M to projects including one exploring whether green tea polyphenols - taken orally rather than topically - can protect skin against ultraviolet damage and ageing; and another examining gut/brain signalling and foods that boost satiety.
The second round allocated a further £4M to projects including studies looking at the role of short chain fatty acids in body weight, appetite and insulin sensitivity, the effects of fruit juice processing and metabolism on cardiovascular health and the effects of pre and probiotics on immune response in ageing.
For more details on DRINC projects, click here.