Plants to be genetically modified to fight allergies

The first generation of genetically-modified crops was designed to help keep crops weed and insect free. The next generation is being developed to produce higher levels of nutrients (vitamins and minerals), medicines and vaccines, and now, to fight allergies.

Fumio Takaiwa and colleagues report (in the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) the development of a transgenic rice plant that has been genetically engineered to fight allergies to Japanese cedar pollen, a growing public health problem in Japan that affects about 20% of the population. In laboratory studies, the researchers fed a steamed version of the transgenic rice and a non-transgenic version to a group of monkeys every day for 26 weeks. At the end of the study period, the test animals did not show any health problems, in an initial demonstration that the allergy-fighting rice may be safe for consumption.

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First published in September 2009

More miscellaneous research reports on food allergy

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