Development of celiac-friendly wheat


A report from Capital Press– The West's AG website...

Arcadia Biosciences LLC, of Davis, Calif., recently received a two-year, $885,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a celiac friendlywheat.

Washington State University researcher Diter Von Wettstein, working in partnership with Arcadia, said that they were not trying to create a gluten-free wheat, since gluten is a mixture of proteins in the grain of wheat.
Instead they want to eliminate the low-molecular glutenins and gliadins, the major culprits in celiac disease. Those proteins can be eliminated naturally by genetically modifying the wheat plant.

After two years of work, researchers pinpointed the genes for the enzyme that creates the gliadins and glutenins in grains which they now hope to deactivate as the researchers say that they are unnecessary for baking. They also believe that deactivating the enzymes would raise the percentage of the amino acid lysine, essential for human nutrition and lacking in today's wheats.

The researchers' most urgent needs are facilities to grow wheat plants for experiments far away from insects and other pests. The applications of pesticides make wheat plants unusable for genetic transformation and breeding. The growth chambers need decontaminated air and facilities to prevent contamination by personnel handling the plants.


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First Published in March 2010