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Researchers to Use Advanced Screening and Breeding Techniques to Help Develop Dietary Alternatives for Celiac Disease Sufferers

This approach has great promise for improving the quality of future gluten-free products--here is a related article.

Celiac.com 10/11/2005 - Arcadia Biosciences, an agricultural biotechnology company focused on products that benefit the environment and human health, today announced that it has received a Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) grant from the National Institutes of Health in partnership with Washington State University (WSU) to research novel lines of wheat with reduced celiac disease-causing proteins. The grant will be split equally between Arcadia and its academic collaborator at WSU, Dr. Diter von Wettstein, the R.A. Nilan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science.

Nearly 1 percent of American people and 4 percent of European people are estimated to suffer from celiac disease, or gluten intolerance. This genetic disorder can create symptoms that range from chronic diarrhea to malnutrition. Studies also indicate that celiac disease sufferers who continue to eat gluten are between 40 and 100 times more likely to develop gastrointestinal cancer than non-celiac disease sufferers. The only known treatment for celiac disease is adherence to a gluten-free diet, which includes complete abstinence from wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives.

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"New diagnostic tests continue to identify people who suffer from celiac disease and who need to make extreme dietary adjustments," said Eric Rey, president of Arcadia Biosciences. "This grant is the first step in our effort to identify and develop wheat varieties that can significantly expand the dietary options for people on gluten-free diets. Our goal is to help enable people who suffer from celiac disease to enjoy wheat-based products, like bread and cookies, and not experience an adverse reaction."

Working with Dr. von Wettstein and his colleagues at WSU, Arcadia will use its proprietary TILLING® technology to identify wheat plants in which harmful gluten proteins are minimized.

Arcadias current product pipeline includes six technologies that either protect the environment or improve human health. The company expects to launch its first product, GLA-enriched safflower oil, to the nutritional supplement market in 2008. Other technologies include higher-yielding plants that use less nitrogen fertilizer, salt-tolerant plants, and fresh produce with high levels of antioxidants such as lycopene. These products are being developed using both genetic engineering and advanced breeding technologies.

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