Chronic diseases are a huge world-wide problem. Twice as many people die from them as die from infectious diseases. The World Health Organisation states that improved diet is one of the major changes that can be made to help prevent these diseases. There are strong grounds for thinking that diets that include foods rich in anthocyanins and other anti-oxidants can contribute to reduced incidence of chronic disease.

Oxidising chemicals in the body can affect the cell signaling system causing disease. The right phytonutrients can combat this effect, and not simply through their anti-oxidant properties. They can affect the activities of a wide spectrum of cellular targets, including key enzymes and membrane and nuclear receptors.

While it is possible to use nutritional supplements to increase intake of these compounds, there is increasing evidence to show that they work much better when consumed within the foods where they occur naturally. The human metabolism is a hugely complicated system and it is not fully understood how the effects of different nutrients interact.

We have developed a proprietary technology for massively enhancing the production of beneficial phytonutrients in plants. Tomato fruit expressing NPS genes (derived from two other plant species – arabadopsis and antirrhinum) are a beautiful deep purple colour. These tomatoes contain high levels of the polyphenols associated with consumption of blueberries, blackcurrants acai, and pomegranate.

NPS is currently working on crossing our genetic traits into a standard field production tomato (known as Ohio 8243). This variety has been chosen for its suitability to growing in both Ohio and California and because it is particularly well-suited to juicing and processing. Seeds from this back-crossing will be available to be grown from early 2013.

A paper published in Nature Biotechnology in 2008 showed that consumption of NPS purple tomatoes extends the lifespan of cancer-prone mice by 30%.