Scientists develop 'friendly gluten'

Breakthrough could be good news for coeliac sufferers

(ANSA) - Foggia, June 16 - A group of Italian scientists say they have developed a method to modify a protein in wheat gluten so that it does not spark the damaging reaction suffered by people with coeliac disease.
    The process to create 'friendly gluten' may make it possible to produce wheat-flour breads, pastas, cakes, biscuits and other goods that, at the moment, coeliac sufferers have to avoid.
    Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder that reduces sufferers' ability to properly absorb nutrients from food in their intestine.
    It is caused by a reaction to the gluten proteins found in wheat and other grains such as barley and rye.
    The only treatment for coeliac disease is to have a gluten-free diet.
    But the team from Foggia University (Università di Foggia) say they have created a way to modify the gluten protein in wheat to interrupt the chemical reaction that is damaging to people with coeliac diseases.
    This may make it possible to have products with gluten- friendly wheat flour that are just as tasty as traditional bread, pasta, pastries and so on.
    There are many gluten-free versions of products usually made of wheat flour on the market, created with alternative ingredients such as corn flour and rice flour, but the taste is often not quite the same.
    It is also possible to extract gluten from wheat flour but, once this is done, the flour loses some of the characteristics that make it well suited as an ingredient for many foods.
    The breakthrough is a result of research by professors Aldo Di Luccia and Carmen Lamacchia of Foggia University and Carmela Gianfrani of Italy's national research council (CNR).
    The team has patented its method for creating friendly gluten in Italy and the rest of the world.
    Coeliac disease is thought to affect up to 1% of people with Western Caucasian ancestry, although many sufferers go undiagnosed.
    Symptoms include a failure to grow properly in children, pain and discomfort in the digestive tract, chronic constipation and diarrhoea, anaemia and fatigue.
   

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