I wrote a post on GMO wheat back in 2015. Now this same science is being used to formulate bread that is safe for people with celiac.
Here is an excerpt from this post on genetic literacy project:
People forced to avoid gluten could soon have their bread (and cake) and eat it. Now there are strains of wheat that do not produce the forms of gluten that trigger a dangerous immune reaction in as many as 1 in 100 people.
Because the new strains still contain some kinds of gluten, though, the wheat can still be used to bake bread. “It’s regarded as being pretty good, certainly better than anything on the gluten-free shelves,” says Jan Chojecki of PBL-Ventures in the UK, who is working with investors in North America to market products made with this wheat.
If they could remove the offending gluten and make bread that actually tastes like, well, bread, would you try it?
According to the site:
Not all gluten proteins trigger [a response]: the main culprit is a group called gliadins. So Francisco Barro’s team at the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in Cordoba, Spain, set about getting rid of them.
They used a genetic modification technique to remove 90 percent of the gliadins in wheat. They did this by adding genes that trigger a process called RNA interference, which stops specific proteins being made. But because the gliadin genes themselves remain intact, in theory, there is a risk that the wheat could start making the crucial proteins again.
So Barro’s team next tried using CRISPR gene-editing to get rid of the genes entirely.
More genes need to be disabled before the CRISPR strain is ready for testing, but it should be worth all the effort: the team have already shown that the GM wheat strain makes an acceptable bread.
So, what is CRISPR technology? From Wikipedia:
CRISPR is an abbreviation of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.
CRISPR (/ˈkrɪspər/) is a family of DNA sequences in bacteria that contains snippets of DNA from viruses that have attacked the bacterium. These snippets are used by the bacterium to detect and destroy DNA from further attacks by similar viruses. These sequences play a key role in a bacterial defence system, and form the basis of a genome editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas9 that allows permanent modification of genes within organisms.
Genetically modified wheat is still wheat. Is it safe for celiacs? Are gliadins the only protein that causes symptoms?
If the product becomes available in markets, I would be willing to give it a try. I do not have celiac disease, so all that would happen to me is that it would make me sick for a day or two.
If I do actually try it, I will certainly update all of you.