Scientists Remove the Gluten Genes From Wheat

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Oprah loves bread. We all love bread. But, as gluten-free diets become more mainstream, more and more people are realizing that even if they don't have celiac disease, they still suffer from gluten sensitivity (known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity). And that means no bread. (Or hundreds of other delicious foodstuffs, like beer, or pasta, or fried chicken, or even soy sauce.)

But, in what could be a huge boon for people with gluten issues, scientists in Spain have managed to remove the majority of the proteins that make gluten so troublesome from wheat, according to Digital Trends.

The study, published in the journal Plant Biotechnology, used CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to drastically reduce the amount of gliadins—a protein in gluten that's particularly problematic for celiacs—in wheat. This technique could allow researchers to breed wheat strains that people with gluten-sensitivity are naturally less reactive to, leading to a naturally low-gluten flour.

Unfortunately, the technique probably won't help people with celiac disease just yet. The researchers were able to eliminate 35 of the 45 gliadin genes in wheat, but that's not enough to make wheat safe for celiacs. The genetic changes reduced reactivity to the gluten in the wheat by 85 percent, which means celiacs would still have an immune response to it.

But for people with less serious gluten-sensitivity issues who can still digest small amounts of gluten, the innovation would allow them to eat wheat products without the resulting stomach hell. And while the technology isn't there just yet, it's possible that celiac-safe wheat could be in our future. The researchers are still working on removing those 10 remaining gliadin genes, which would allow them to create gluten-safe wheat strains. Sadly, no amount of gluten-removing technology will help the poor souls with non-gluten wheat sensitivity.

[h/t Digital Trends]