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Genetically modified eggs to put an end to this food allergy

A Japanese research team has used genetic engineering to remove a major allergenic protein from the egg. If the researchers consider these modified eggs as “less allergenic”, their total safety is not yet assured for people allergic to eggs.

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Scientists at the University of Hiroshima have succeeded in eliminating the ovomucoid protein, the major egg allergen, in chickens. They used Talen (for “transcription activator-like effector nucleases”) genome-editing technology to cut DNA at a specific sequence. The method targets chicken exon 1, an RNA element that codes for certain proteins such as ovomucoid.

According to the results of the study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, eggs laid by two strains of modified chickens showed no obvious abnormalities. Moreover, they contained no trace of the troublesome protein or its mutated variants. However, whole-genome sequencing of these new eggs revealed mutations, but they did not affect protein-coding regions in general. For now, the researchers say these eggs are less allergenic than regular eggs, and further studies will need to prove that they pose no health hazard to people with egg allergies.

Total security to prove

Safety assessments are paramount, as even a tiny amount of ovomucoid protein can trigger a severe allergic reaction in these people. Egg is found in many food products and even some vaccines contain egg protein. In children, chicken egg allergies are one of the most common food allergies and allergies to egg whites – which contain the protein ovomucoid – are more common than those to egg yolk.

The next phase of research will be to assess the physical properties and processing ability of ovomucoid-free eggs, and to confirm their efficacy through clinical trials. said Ryo Ezaki, lead author of the study. ” We will continue to conduct further research towards the practical application of allergen-reduced eggs. »

Written by Emilie Grenaud

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