Dr Alfredo Gavez, who is the lead scientific adviser for the US firm, said an in vitro study of lunasin has demonstrated potential to inhibit a gene linked to cholesterol production and increase the expression of a gene which reduces plasma LDL cholesterol. Dr Gavez said a culture of HepG2 liver cells showed lunasin "significantly" reduced levels of HMG-CoA reducstase expression by 50 per cent. HMG-CoA is the gene that produces the enzyme responsible for cholesterol biosynthesis. At the same time, he said, expression of the gene which produces LDL receptors that help to clear plasma cholesterol was increased by 60 per cent. NutraIngredients.com has not seen the full results or methodology and the publication statues is not yet known. But the study may add yet another boost to the healthy reputation of the soybean and push it into the emerging field of nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics, a phrase coined in 1999, is the study of how nutrients and genes interact and how genetic variations can cause people to respond differently to food nutrients. Personalised nutrition is a subset of nutrigenomics termed nutrigenetics, which looks at how hereditable genetic make-up predisposes a response to nutrition. The European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO) told NutraIngredients.com that nutrigenomics has a role in both managing and treating obesity as well as its prevention - but added that it could be up to 20 years before the science will be able to underpin public health care advice. Rising obesity also has a huge impact on public health services, and Foresight predicts the cost of the epidemic, in terms of health care provision and lost working hours, could reach £45bn a year by 2050. Dr Galvez presented the findings at the Bruce Ames International Symposium in Nutritional Genomics at the University of California. Soy Labs president Ryan Schmidt said: "This study indicates that the lunasin peptide is a contributing factor in the cholesterol-lowering benefits of soy protein." Lunasin has also been connected to having a positive anti-cancer effect. A 2001 study showed that mice with lunasin applied to their skin had significantly lower rates of skin cancer than mice without the lunasin treatment.