Food Bites: Mar 2018

FOOD BITES: JUNE 2018

Vegetables Harvested in Antarctica Without Sun, Soil or Pesticides

Scientists in Antarctica have harvested the first crop of vegetables grown without soil, daylight or pesticides as part of a project designed to help astronauts cultivate fresh food on other planets. Researchers at Germany’s Neumayer Station III say eight pounds of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes....

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FOOD BITES: JULY 2018

Magnesium Treats Depression

As little as 248 mg of magnesium per day leads to an astounding reversal of depression syndrome, according to research conducted at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and published in the journal PLoS One in June 2017.

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FOOD BITES: AUGUST 2018

Source of Yuma E. Coli Romaine Found

Federal officials first announced on April 13 an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown and produced in the Yuma, Ariz., area. Federal investigators found the source of the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on July 28: canal water.

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FOOD BITES: MARCH 2018

Researchers Create Genetically Modified Gluten-Free Wheat

Bread’s appealing texture is gluten, a group of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. But gluten damages the small intestines of people with the serious autoimmune disorder celiac disease. Most gluten-free bread is made from alternative flours such as rice or potato, which makes it taste and feel different from wheat bread. Researchers have found a way to genetically engineer wheat that contains far less of the most troublesome type of gluten but still has other proteins that give bread its characteristic taste and springiness. The scientists used the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9 to cut selected genes from a wheat genome. Their study focused on alpha-gliadins, gluten proteins believed to be wheat’s major troublemakers in the immune system. The researchers designed bits of genetic material that directed the scissor-like Cas9 protein to cut out 35 of the 45 alpha-gliadin genes. When the modified wheat was tested in a petri dish, it produced an 85-percent weaker immune response, the team reported online last September in Plant Biotechnology Journal. This engineered wheat has a ways to go before it can be turned into anything marketable, says Wendy Harwood, a crop geneticist at the John Innes Center in England who was not part of the study. “This is just a really important step in maybe producing something that is going to be incredibly useful,” she said. To develop a completely safe strain of wheat for celiac patients, the researchers may need to target more of the gluten genes.

Identified: Six Genes Activate Peanut Allergy Reactions

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City have identified six genes that activate hundreds of other genes in people who have severe allergic reactions to peanuts. This is the first study in human trials to identify genes driving acute peanut allergic reactions using a double-blind placebo-controlled approach with comprehensive sequencing of genes expressed before, during and after peanut ingestion. Importantly, the researchers studied gene expression in children over the course of their allergic reactions, allowing each subject’s reaction to be compared to their own pre-reaction state, rather than to a control group without peanut allergies. This approach allowed the researchers to accurately detect gene expression changes resulting from the reactions. “The study highlights genes and molecular processes that could be targets for new therapies to treat peanut allergy reactions and could be important to understanding how peanut allergy works overall,” said the study’s senior author, Supinda Bunyavanich, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Pediatrics and Genetics and Genomic Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We still don’t completely understand everything that happens in the body during peanut allergy reactions. We can use these genes to direct our studies of peanut allergy and hopefully predict how strongly someone with peanut allergy will react.” The research team plans to target other common allergens, such as milk and eggs, to determine if their findings may be relevant to other types of food allergy. The results were published online Dec. 5 in the journal Nature Communications.


ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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