Right now bread made from gluten-free wheat may sound like something from a science-fiction novel but scientists say that it’s a real possibility.
Scientists from Washington State University are experimenting by looking for varieties of wheat and barley that lack, or at least make a lot less of, key gluten proteins in their grains. Gluten is a mix of proteins stored in seeds of wheat, barley and rye and only some of these proteins trigger the allergic reactions in celiac and gluten intolerant patients. So what if these deadly proteins could be removed? Would the wheat then be safe for celiacs to eat?
So far none of the varieties of wheat and barley they have found are completely safe for celiacs to eat but they have found some varieties that lack some of the important allergenic proteins.
Their approach relies on a key enzyme, an enzyme that helps activate a whole set of genes that make the most problematic gluten proteins. With genetic engineering to get rid of this enzyme, the seeds of the wheat were then found to contain majorly reduced levels of this set of problem proteins.
This kind of genetically modified ‘Frankenwheat’ is more than likely the reason that many of us can’t tolerate wheat or gluten in the first place so is creating another type of genetically modified wheat really the way to go?
Do we really need or want wheat in our diets? There are plenty of naturally gluten free grains out there already…
Would you eat a wheat bread if the gluten had been removed? Or would scientists would be better off using their resources elsewhere?