Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Develop Wheat that Fights Celiac Disease

February 27, 2019

For people who suffer from celiac disease, traditional staples like wheat bread and pasta are off the menu. With celiac, the body's immune system reacts when gluten is eaten, causing nausea, cramps, malnutrition, and other health problems. There is no available treatment for the disease, other than avoiding foods made with wheat or eating an enzyme supplement with every meal. 

A team of scientists from Washington State University, Clemson University, and partner institutions in Chile, China, and France developed a new genotype of wheat with built‑in enzymes designed to break down the proteins that cause the body's immune reaction. 

The team introduced a new DNA into wheat, producing a variety that contains one gluten-busting enzyme (or glutenase) from barley and another from the bacteria Flavobacterium meningosepticum. The enzymes break down gluten proteins in the human digestive system. The scientists simulated the human body's digestive tract, tested gluten extracts from the experimental grain and found that it had far fewer levels of the disease-provoking proteins. The enzymes reduced the amount of indigestible gluten by as much as two thirds.

For more details, read the WSU Insider.