|NewGeneris is an Integrated Project conducted within the European
Union's 6th Framework Programme, priority area Food Quality and Safety.
Its objective is to investigate the role of prenatal and early-life
exposure to genotoxic chemicals present in food and the environment
in the development of childhood cancer and immune disorders.
During recent decades there has been an accelerating increase of the
incidence of childhood cancers, especially leukemias. A world-wide
increase is also observed in the prevalence among children of immune
diseases, including asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic
There may be biological and etiological links between the onset of
childhood cancer and immunological disorders. Among such possible
links is exposure to genotoxic-carcinogens (i.e. carcinogenic chemicals
capable of causing damage to the genetic material of cells) with associated
immunotoxic properties, present in the environment, including food.
NewGeneris is examining the possible role of exposure to such chemicals
during pregnancy in the induction of increased risk of cancer and
immune disorders in childhood. The relevance, for such risks, of analogous
exposures of the fathers at the time of conception, as well as of
the children themselves during their very early lifetime, is also
The main research tool used is biomarkers, i.e. chemical or cellular
components of human fluids or tissues, which reflect exposure to,
early effects of, or susceptibility to toxic chemicals. In NewGeneris,
biomarkers are measured mostly in samples of maternal and umbilical
cord blood collected from groups of mother-child pairs (birth cohorts)
and stored in large collections ( biobanks ). Information regarding
the dietary exposures of the mothers, the fathers and the children
themselves during early life, is extracted from validated questionnaires.
The combined analysis of data on exposure, biomarkers and information
on the health status of the children as they grow older will be utilised
to evaluate the role of early-life exposures in the causation of disease,
to identify genetic traits which lead to increased individual susceptibility
to disease and to evaluate their public health implications of such