Researcher aims at developing 'celiac-safe' wheat

Release Date: 
Monday, January 4, 2016

Kansas researcher Chris Miller is working with the Kansas Wheat Commission on celiac-safe wheat.

A Kansas researcher hopes to develop wheat varieties that people with celiac disease can eat.

Celiac disease causes extreme sensitivity to the gluten in wheat and some other foods.

In theory, celiac-safe wheat would still contain the proteins such as gluten necessary for making bread, but would have none of the reactive protein epitopes, which cause the body’s immune system to produce antibodies, said Chris Miller, director of wheat quality research for Heartland Plant Innovations in Manhattan, Kan. He is working with the Kansas Wheat Commission at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.

Miller is measuring the variability for reactivity within a large pool of wheat lines, including commercial varieties and wild relatives. This helps determine whether any existing varieties with low levels of reactivity are already in the center’s collection.

Miller’s work came about when researchers discussed the need to address wheat’s role in celiac disease.

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