Experts from the University of Debrecen are involved in research in the fields of health industry-based agricultural innovation and xenohormesis.
- In today’s world the surest thing is the transformation of change. Hungarian higher education is also undergoing tremendous change today: a new institutional form has come into being - the community college. In these initiatives, which also respond to the challenges of the market, the University of Debrecen will be Kisvárda’s mentor - said Katalin Belinszky
, managing director of the First Kisvárda Community College Nonprofit Kft. on Thursday at the opening of the two-day academic conference on xenohormesis held at the University of Debrecen.
Katalin Belinszky recalled that the first community training sites were started at the beginning of the 1900s in America, while in Europe Almere in the Netherlands has demonstrated the benefits of educational development in disadvantaged parts of the country.
The Kisvárda Community College focuses on health industry-based agricultural innovation, which is based on a biomedical concept which is hardly ten years old, xenohormesis, i.e. the examination of the effects on the human body of special substances found in plants. All this is achieved in the context of the project entitled "Establishing knowledge-based, creative town- and area development using the skill and scientific capacity of the University of Debrecen to extend higher education services to the Kisvarda area".
At the opening of the scientific conference Zoltán Szilvássy, rector of the University of Debrecen, highlighted that the new type of higher education institution was based on the idea that the University of Debrecen’s expertise is needed in the region, and so, taking into account the needs of the town council and the region's industrial players, the community college programme has been developed, positioned in the study area lying between medicine, food science, agriculture and tourism.
Philip L. Hooper
, the University of Colorado professor and renowned researcher into xenohormesis, gave a presentation via video message on the field’s beginnings. The American professor recalled, for example, that the beneficial effects of willow bark have been known for thousands of years, and Hippocrates also recommended it for reducing fever and pain in childbirth. Xenohormesis is a word combining Greek roots which means a craving for things of foreign origin, i.e. a desire for the characteristics of another individual or thing.
In his lecture Zoltán Szilvássy presented xenohormesis as a scientific programme. Among other things he spoke of one of the mechanisms of xenohormesis - heat stress, which means that although a plant, unlike an animal, is unable to pull away into the shade, it develops an active substance that protects it from heat or even pathogens. An example of this process is the plant antibiotic resveratrol, produced by grapes. Research has shown that those who drink red wine, in which there is much of this plant antibiotic, live longer. So xenohormesis research examines the interactions between plants and animals or people, which may have a beneficial effect even against ageing or stress. In the framework of the program research can also be carried out into the effect on diabetic patients of the active ingredient capsaicin, occurring in peppers grown in the Kisvárda area, one of the best arable areas in Europe.
In his lecture on xenohormesis and ageing, László Vígh, researcher at the Institute of Biochemistry at the Szeged Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, pointed out that several cases have already been documented in which plants produced biomedical benefits in response to various stress effects. The academic pointed out that the cell membranes have a decisive role in the mechanism of xenohormesis. The conference also dealt with the interdisciplinary research involving culinary tourism and nutrition science.