Research in the area of treatment for folks with gluten-related disorders (in particular celiac disease) is big right now. From creating a vaccine, to creating a pill that could help better tolerate gluten are all on the table.
But a researcher in Italy is taking a different approach…finding ways to make a lower gluten wheat — making it tolerable for people with celiac disease.
This week, a report by PRI explained that scientist Carmen Lamacchia has patented a method to reduce the gluten content in wheat by 10 times, she says, making it more tolerable for people with celiac disease.
She claims the wheat comes out at about 80 ppm of gluten, which is higher than the less-than-20-ppm rule in the US to label a product gluten free. She told PRI, “The part [of the wheat] which is toxic, it’s, like, hidden. The enzyme in the celiac patient’s intestine won’t recognize this protein, and won’t activate the inflammatory process typical of the celiac patient.”
Alessio Fasano, MD, founder of Mass General’s Center for Celiac Research and Treatment told PRI he doesn’t believe folks with celiac disease will go for this product at 80 ppm of gluten.
Lamacchia explained that it’s the quality of the gluten that has changed, which is why, she says, even 80 parts per million won’t elicit an autoimmune response.
Could Wheat be a Gluten Free Option Someday?
The research in this area has to start somewhere right? Could Lamacchia’s modified 80 ppm wheat be step one? Maybe step two or three or four gets us to an acceptable gluten content a few years down the road.
Other research has been done about wheat and whether any of it can ever be tolerable for someone with celiac disease:
- Ancient wheat grains. This research from 2009 looked into whether some are more tolerable to a celiac than modern wheat.
- Structural genes of wheat and barley 5-methylcytosine DNA glycosylases and their potential applications for human health Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. October 15, 2012
- Cereal-based gluten-free food: How to reconcile nutritional and technical properties of wheat proteins with safety for celiac disease patients? Study published in Nutrients in January of 2014
- What about wheat starch? GlutenFreeDietitian.com had a good quick synopsis on it in this post.
If scientists can get wheat down to under 20 ppm of gluten, would you use it? Feel free to comment below.