Biotech Updates

Gene Editing Can be Used to Make Wheat with Safe Gluten

January 30, 2019

Gluten-free diet is a hot trend among many health conscious individuals. However, this diet is designed for people with celiac disease (CD), 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.

Researcher Aurélie Jouanin from Wageningen University and Research described the use of CRISPR-Cas9 to precisely modify gliadin genes and remove the immunogenic epitopes, to develop wheat with safe gluten. As a proof of principle, she developed wheat plants wherein some of the gliadin genes were modified or deleted. These edited wheat plants are not yet safe for CD patients, as there is a large number of gluten genes present in wheat and not all gluten genes have been targeted. She has also developed high-throughput methods to determine which genes have been modified and which remain to be edited.

Read more from Wageningen University and Research.