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Gene editing might create “gluten-safe” wheat kernels


March 4, 2019
By Bakers Journal

PhD student Aurélie Jouanin published a thesis that postulates that gene editing on wheat plants could make gluten safe for celiacs.

Joanin’s study from the Wageningen University, used CRISPR/Cas9 to modify gliandin wheat’s genes to strip them of immunogenic epitopes to develop a new strain of wheat with safe gluten.

The edited wheat plants are not yet safe for coeliacs as there is still a large number of gluten genes present in wheat and not all gluten was targeted. As a result, she developed a method to determine which genes have been modified and which remain to be edited in the future steps towards a safe wheat variety.

This is the first example of using gene splicing to determine a wheat blade’s gluten-content in its DNA. Gene splicing is a contentious topic in Europe. Targeting genes is currently being subjected to GM regulation, following the ruling of the European Court of Justice in July of 2018. Using random Y-irradiation mutagenesis to alter genes is exempted from ruling.