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    Kansas Farmers Up Ante on Gluten-free Wheat Research


    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac.com 12/22/2015 - Kansas wheat farmers are funding genetic research to figure out exactly why some people struggle to digest wheat, and to try to produce an wheat-friendly alternative.

    Photo: CC--USDAThe Kansas Wheat Commission has put $200,000 toward the first two years of the project, which intends to identify anything in wheat DNA that can trigger an auto-immune reaction in people with celiac disease.

    Ultimately, the project seeks to promote the development new wheat varieties that might be tolerated by celiac sufferers, and meet other gluten-free needs. This, at a time when the market for gluten-free goods has skyrocketed, driven partly by non-celiac sufferers who see such products as a healthier alternative, and is now worth nearly a billion dollars a year in just the US alone.

    People with celiac disease need to eat a gluten-free diet, avoiding anything containing wheat, rye, or barley. So far, researchers have identified about 20 protein fragments in wheat that trigger celiac reactions, but no one has identified all of them, or bred a variety of wheat that is safe for celiac sufferers to eat.

    Kansas researchers are hoping to be the first to establish a full screening of celiac-promoting proteins in wheat, then to develop a gluten-free wheat using traditional breeding methods.

    "If you know you are producing a crop that is not tolerated well by people, then it's the right thing to do," said the project's lead researcher, Chris Miller, senior director of research for Engrain, a Kansas company that makes products to enhance the nutrition and appearance of products made by the milling and cereal industry.

    Their plan however, has some skeptics. After reviewing the Kansas plan online, expert celiac researcher, Armin Alaedini, assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University and a researcher at the New York-based school's Celiac Disease Centre, said the plan may be "too simplistic," and ultimately fail to isolate all the toxic protein sequences that can trigger a celiac reaction.

    Alaedini added that the project may result in a less toxic wheat product that isn't completely safe for all celiac disease patients, and may be no better in terms of nutritional value or baking properties and taste than current gluten-free alternatives.

    So, what do you think about gluten-free wheat for celiac sufferers? Would you try it? Trust it? 

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com.

    Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book Dangerous Grains by James Braly, MD and Ron Hoggan, MA.

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    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 08/28/2013 - Researchers at Washington State University are 'very close' to developing celiac-safe wheat strains, says lead project researcher Diter von Wettstein.
    Rich Koenig, associate dean and director of WSU Extension, says the wheat project involves removing the gluten material that causes the adverse reaction in people who have celiac disease.
    Von Wettstein says that his team has developed wheat hybrids that have 76.4 percent less gluten proteins than conventional strains, and that the next step is to eliminate the remaining percentage.
    Von Wettstein is working two distinct angles on this project. The first approach uses genetic modification, while the seconds does not. He acknowledges that doing it without genetic modification "would be better…But in the end, if the only way to do this is through genetic modification of wheat, it could still be a major advancement for people who suffer from that disease."
    The projects may still take a while as von Wettstein works to identify, selectively silence and remove the responsible genes.
    One caveat is that even if the project is successful, the wheat may not produce flour suitable for baking, though Koenig says that producing wheat suitable for people with celiac disease would be, nonetheless, an "important subsection of wheat production"
    Funding for von Wettstein's research is coming from The National Institutes of Health and Washington State's Life Science Discovery Fund.
    Source:
    http://www.capitalpress.com/content/mw-Barley-071913-art

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/30/2014 - The people who grow wheat think they might have a solution for people with celiac disease: Genetically modified wheat.
    By genetically modifying wheat, researchers are looking to ‘silence’ proteins that trigger adverse immune reactions in people with celiac disease.
    A research team working on just such a project recently published a report of their results in the Journal of Cereal Science. The team included researchers Cristina M. Rosella, Francisco Barrob, Carolina Sousac, and Ma Carmen Menad.
    Their report acknowledges that creating strains of wheat with reduced gluten toxicity is difficult using conventional breeding methods, and that genetic modification, in particular a technology called RNA interference (RNAi), hold the greatest promise in reducing or ‘silencing’ the gluten proteins in wheat and other cereals. Such technology allows researchers to develop gluten-free wheat strains by adjusting the gluten fractions toxic to those with celiac disease.
    They acknowledge that their efforts could face resistance fueled by global concerns around genetically modified foods. They also note that current and prior genetic modification efforts have not produced products with tangible benefits to the consumer. Rather, the main beneficiaries of such efforts have been large companies and/or farmers.
    According to their report, the development of genetically modified wheat lines suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance could be a major turning point.
    Their efforts to create celiac-friendly wheat varieties via genetic modification aims to “solve a health problem that directly affects a large proportion of consumers, in developed as well as developing countries, and with higher consumer awareness.”
    What do you think? Is this a possible breakthrough? Would you be interested in wheat that had been genetically modified to be safe for people with celiac disease?
    Source:
    Sciencedirect.com

    Jefferson Adams
    Ancient Wheat Strains Trigger Adverse Reactions in People with Celiac Disease
    Celiac.com 11/11/2014 - There have been claims that certain strains of wheat, especially ancient strains, such as einkorn, do not trigger adverse reactions in people with celiac disease, or that they trigger less severe reactions.
    Until now, researchers haven't been able to say for certain that celiac disease patients react adversely to all varieties of wheat, or whether there may be differences in reactions to certain strains.
    A research team recently evaluated the safety of ancient strains of wheat in celiac disease. The researchers included Tanja Šuligojemailemail, Armando Gregorinidemail, Mariastella Colombaeemail, H. Julia Elliscemail, and Paul J. Ciclitirac
    To get a better idea of the nature of celiac factions to wheat, the team studied seven Triticum accessions showing different origin (ancient/modern) and ploidy (di-, tetra- hexaploid).
    In all, they tested ancient Triticum monococcum precoce (AA genome) and Triticum speltoides (BB genome), accessions of Triticum turgidum durum (AABB genome) including two ancient (Graziella Ra and Kamut) and two modern (Senatore Cappelli and Svevo) durum strains of wheat and Triticum aestivum compactum (AABBDD genome).
    They evaluated small intestinal gluten-specific T-cell lines generated from 13 celiac patients with wheat accessions by proliferation assays. They found that all strains of wheat they tested triggered a range of adverse responses, independent of ploidy or ancient/modern origin.
    Based on these results, they suggest that all strains of wheat, even ancient strains previously suggested to be low or devoid of celiac toxicity, should be tested for immunogenicity using gluten-specific T-cell lines from multiple celiac patients rather than gluten-specific clones to assess their potential toxicity.
    They also emphasize the need for celiac patients to follow a strict gluten-free diet, including avoidance of ancient strains of wheat.
    Source:
    Clin Nutr. 2013 Dec;32(6):1043-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2013.02.003

    Jefferson Adams
    Is Gluten-free Wheat the Holy Grail of Grain Research?
    Celiac.com 05/04/2015 - Kansas farmers grow a lot of wheat. People with celiac disease avoid wheat like the plague. Not only are people with celiac disease avoiding wheat, but the vast majority of people who avoid wheat now do so for non-medical reasons.
    With celiac disease rates on the rise, and millions of non-celiacs now avoiding gluten for non-medical reasons, the gluten-free food industry is worth nearly a billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone.
    This reality has wheat farmers and researchers scrambling to develop wheat strains and products that are safe for consumption by people who follow gluten-free diets.
    If the The Kansas Wheat Commission has its way, people with and without celiac disease will eat gluten-free wheat in the future. The Commission is providing $200,000 in seed money to support a project intended to identify every component in wheat’s genetic sequence that might trigger adverse reactions in people with celiac disease.
    The project is being led by researcher Chris Miller, senior director of research for Engrain, a Kansas company that makes products to enhance the nutrition and appearance of products made by the milling and cereal industry.
    Understanding the causes of celiac disease and gluten intolerance is the goal of numerous researchers worldwide. Some researchers focus on human diagnosis and treatment, while others work on better understanding the 20 or so wheat protein fragments currently known to cause celiac reactions.
    But no research team has identified every component in wheat that contributes to adverse reactions in people with celiac disease. No researcher or team has yet bred a variety of wheat that is safe for celiac sufferers to eat.
    Miller says his team hopes to be "one of the first to establish this comprehensive screening of reactive proteins in wheat." The research began in July at the Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kansas, and remains in its early stages, with researchers extracting proteins from various varieties of wheat in the Kansas wheat repository that dates back to the 1900s in hopes of finding a variety that might already be low in reactivity for celiac sufferers.
    Later on, the team intends to combine the proteins with anti-gluten antibodies produced by the human immune system to test for immune reactions. Eventually, researchers hope to develop a gluten-free wheat using traditional breeding methods.
    What do you think? Will they succeed? Would you eat products made from gluten-free wheat?
    Read more at AP.
     

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