Gluten-free diet is a hot trend among many health conscious individuals.
However, this diet is designed for people with celiac disease (CD), or those
who cannot tolerate a certain type of gluten in their digestive system.
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other related species,
acts as glue when cooked or baked that holds breads and cakes together as
they rise. The specific type of gluten responsible for causing adverse
reactions are called gliadins.
Researcher Aurélie Jouanin from Wageningen University and Research described
the use of CRISPR-Cas9 to precisely modify gliadin genes and remove the
immunogenic epitopes, to develop wheat with safe gluten. As a proof of
principle, she developed wheat plants wherein some of the gliadin genes were
modified or deleted. These edited wheat plants are not yet safe for CD
patients, as there is a large number of gluten genes present in wheat and
not all gluten genes have been targeted. She has also developed
high-throughput methods to determine which genes have been modified and
which remain to be edited.