Diet affects human health significantly with a poor diet increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), and diabetes mellitus. A healthy diet plays a protective role and mitigates the genetic risk of CHD. Polyphenols are a class of compounds present in plant-based foods, show a protective role for a wide range of diseases including cancer, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative disease. Despite the evidence of the positive role of polyphenols in humans, the underlying mechanism of action is unexplored. Clinical trials have often led to conflicting evidence for interpretation. 

The need is for a framework to interpret the evidence and understand the mechanistic predictions on the molecular pathways responsible for the health implications of polyphenols present in the diet.

Technology Overview

Researchers at Northeastern have developed a network medicine framework to capture the molecular interactions between polyphenols (rosmarinic acid or RA) and their cellular binding targets, unveiling their relationship to complex diseases. The proteins to which polyphenols bind were identified in the human interactome. The system demonstrates that the proximity between polyphenol targets and proteins associated with specific diseases is predictive of the known therapeutic effects of polyphenols. 

RA showed potential as a modulator of vascular health, and close inspection of its targets on the human interactome suggested a role on platelet function (VD module). The functional impact of RA showed reduction in collagen-induced phosphorylation of FYN protein plays a key role in platelet modulation. The use of this system to identify underlying mechanisms of diseases and drugs appears beneficial. 


  • Predict efficacy of drugs in specific diseases for which specific polyphenols might have therapeutic effects 
  • Identification of protein targets that modulate platelet function 
  • Identification of alternative drugs 


  • Drug discovery
  • Health supplements
  • Medical food industry


  • License
  • Partnering
  • Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Italo do Valle
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Joseph Loscalzo
Harvey Roweth
Michael Malloy
Elisabeth Battinelli
Cellular Networks