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Crop Biotech Update

Anti-Allergy GM Rice Appears Safe in Animal Studies

June 26, 2009

A team of researchers from Japan's National Institute for Agrobiological Sciences has successfully developed a genetically modified rice variety that fights Japanese cedar pollen allergy. What's more, they were able to demonstrate that oral administration of the GM rice is safe. Japanese cedar pollen allergy is an important public health problem in Japan, affecting millions of Japanese from February to April each year.

Fumio Takaiwa and colleagues developed a transgenic rice variety accumulating a hybrid peptide of major human T-cell epitopes (7Crp) from Japanese cedar pollen allergens. 7Crp is an ideal safe tolerogen, since it possesses the same level of immunogenicity as the native allergens without binding to allergen-specific immunoglobulin E.

The researchers fed a steamed version of the transgenic rice and a non-transgenic version to a group of monkeys (crab-eating macaques, Macaca fascicularis) everyday for 26 weeks. At the end of the study period, the test animals did not show any health problems. According to the researchers, this demonstrates that the allergy-fighting rice is safe for consumption. The macaques were monitored for clinical signs, body weight, necropsy findings, histopathological findings, hematological data, blood biochemical data, and urinalysis.

The paper published by the Journal of Food and Agricultural Chemistry is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf900371u