Biotech Updates

GM Wheat Used to Make Bread with Less Gluten

October 4, 2017

Gluten-free diet is a new trend followed by many health conscious individuals. However, this diet is designed for people with celiac disease, or those who cannot tolerate a certain type of gluten in their digestive system. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other related species, acts as glue when cooked or baked that holds breads and cakes together as they rise. The specific type of gluten responsible for causing adverse reactions are called gliadins.

Francisco Barro from the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in Cordoba, Spain, and colleagues, used genetic engineering to remove 90 percent of the gliadins in wheat. They added genes that stop the production of the proteins. To prevent the wheat from making gliadins again, they knocked out 35 out of the 45 genes involved using CRISPR gene-editing.

Though the resulting wheat cannot be used in baking sliced loaf breads because of less gluten content, it is good enough for making baguettes and rolls. The GM wheat is currently being tested in 30 celiac patients from Mexico and Spain and so far the results are very encouraging.

For more information, read the news article in New Scientist and the open-access research article Plant Biotechnology Journal.