Scientists create low-gluten wheat that could be eaten by coeliacs
‘The bottom line is I’m sure people with coeliac disease would love to see a product that behaves like wheat without having the problem gluten in it’
A low-gluten strain of wheat that could benefit people with coeliac disease has been created by a team of scientists in Spain.
They hope their work can be applied to producing products like bread that are low in gluten, a group of proteins normally found in wheat.
Coeliac disease results from the immune system reacting to presence of gluten by damaging the small intestine lining. This can result in symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea and tiredness.
As a result, those that suffer from it, are unable to eat anything containing wheat.
The condition affects around 1 per cent of the population.
Primarily, a protein called α-gliadin is the component of gluten that causes an adverse immune reaction.
With this in mind, the research team at the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in the Spanish city of Cordoba edited the α-gliadin genes in wheat using the CRISPR/Cas9 tool, effectively reducing the amount of α-gliadin in their wheat.
In one of their wheat strains, the scientists knocked out 35 of the 45 genes that code for α-gliadin in wild wheat.