Good news for the wheat sensitive among us

Monday, 27 April, 2020

Good news for the wheat sensitive among us

Research from the Edith Cowan University (ECU) and CSIRO has revealed key insights about the proteins causing two of the most common types of wheat sensitivity — non-coeliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) and occupational asthma (baker’s asthma). With approximately 10% of people suffering from wheat sensitivity or allergy causing a range of health issues, researchers are developing tests that will help the production of low-allergen wheat varieties in the future. Findings from the investigation were published in the Journal of Proteome Research.

“We have known for a long time that certain wheat proteins can trigger an immune response in some people, but now we have developed a way to detect and quantify these proteins. We looked at a group of proteins called alpha-amylase/trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), which are known to trigger the intestinal inflammation and chronic ailments associated with wheat intolerance in some people,” said Michelle Colgrave, ECU Professor of Food and Agriculture, who led the investigation.

Research indicates that the ATI proteins are commonly found in wheat and play an important role in plant defence against pests, and also act as an important nutrient for plant growth and human nutrition. The research has resulted in a reference map of wheat ATI proteins across a diverse range of wheat varieties that represent more than 80% of the genetic diversity found in commercial bread wheats.

Researchers developed an innovative technique to specifically measure 18 of these proteins, which will help breeders select varieties with low ATI protein levels in the future or food manufacturers to detect these proteins in food.

“This is a promising step towards future wheat breeding programs that aim to produce safe and healthy wheat varieties to meet the needs of consumers that currently rely on total wheat avoidance,” Colgrave said.

Image credit: © Ivanov

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