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K-State Researchers Make Gluten Breakthrough

Kansas State University researchers report a breakthrough in developing wheat-based foods that contain lower amounts of gluten. It’s a discovery that could lessen the adverse effects of celiac and other autoimmune diseases.

Scientists from Kansas State, the Agricultural Research Service, and in partnership with Kansas Wheat successfully used the gene-editing technique called CRISPR to reduce the presence of two types of gluten-coding genes. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine and the small fingerlike projections that help the body absorb nutrients. Researchers admitted they were surprised that once the genes got edited, it reduced the immunotoxicity.

However, gluten won’t be completely removed from wheat as it’s important for bread making. While the reduced gluten level achieved so far won’t make wheat safe for use, it’s an important step forward.

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