Chronic diseases have become a global burden. Many of these diseases manifest with altered metabolism, which often result from an unhealthy diet. It is our belief that the use of nutrients, in combination with each other or with drugs, to normalize disease-related metabolic pathways may be an effective approach to addressing chronic disease.
The Institute for Integrated Metabolic Interventions (IMI), founded and currently directed by Dr. Jing X. Kang, is committed to basic and clinical research for the development of nutritional interventions as a solution for clinical problems. We utilize a pathway-based, biomarker-guided, and personalized approach to creating integrated metabolic interventions.
Identifying the underlying metabolic pathways of disease and developing strategies to disrupt and correct these pathways could provide a promising new approach to disease management. Given that nutrients not only serve as substrates and products for the enzymatic reactions that determine metabolism, but can also act as regulators of gene expression, it is conceivable that they could also play a key role in modulating the metabolic pathways of disease. By using multiple nutrients to modulate these pathways and interfere with the metabolic needs of chronic diseases, nutritional interventions are capable of inhibiting disease development.
The alteration of a metabolic pathway can result in changes in the metabolite profile, functional processes, and the symptoms of a disease, which serve as biomarkers of the pathway. Identifying the relevant biomarkers and establishing reliable methods of measurement will help physicians and patients select a suitable nutritional intervention, monitor its efficacy and progress, and tailor their subsequent treatment.
Individual variation is now known to cause great variability in health outcomes. Nutritional studies attempt to control for factors such as age, sex, weight, and exercise, but two major factors that remain largely unaccounted for are genetic variation and the gut microbiota. Gene variants and gut microbial composition can significantly influence how an individual responds to certain dietary factors. Investigating the interaction between genetic variation and metabolism and elucidating the role of the gut microbiota in metabolism should help us to properly design and interpret nutritional studies.
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