New wheat varieties could be made safe for coeliacs

wheat coeliacs

Gliadins are some of the main proteins in gluten that are responsible for the gut-damaging autoimmune response in coeliac patients. It has previously been controversially proposed that modern wheat production practices have increased levels of gliadins in wheat, thereby contributing to the rising rates of coeliac disease. A recent study has shown different varieties of wheat produce considerably different immune responses, with even the oldest varieties of wheat being toxic to those with coeliac disease.

There are various kinds of gliadins in every variety of wheat. In order to assess toxicity of each wheat variety, scientists from the Technical University of Madrid, Spain, analysed various kinds of wheat grown in several different countries in the same agricultural year. Their work showed some varieties of wheat have only low levels of the gliadins that could produce a toxic response in those with coeliac disease.

These findings indicate the potential for cultivation of wheat products that are safe for coeliacs. By using plant breeding techniques, wheat varieties could be produced with low toxicity while retaining other desirable traits such as high bread dough viscoelasticity. In media reports associated with this research, the authors maintain this approach could “combat the poor nutritional and technological characteristics of gluten-free products and thereby contribute to improving patients’ quality of life”.

Reference: Ribeiro et al. 2016 Food Chemistry. Vol. 213(8) DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.06.043

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