Developing reduced-gluten cereal grains

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Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., an agricultural technology company, announced last week that it received an award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders Institute (NIDDK) to develop reduced-gluten grains.

Under the award, which is expected to provide $1.99 million in funding, Arcadia’s internal research team will collaborate with Karol Sestak, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University. This award builds on Arcadia’s previous NIH award focused on reducing gluten in grains, which was conducted in collaboration with Diter von Wettstein, Ph.D., the R.A. Nilan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University.

Gluten consists of a complex mixture of proteins found in cereal grains such as wheat, barley and rye. People who suffer from gluten intolerance—its most extreme form, celiac disease—can experience a variety of negative symptoms and must avoid gluten. Ample evidence exists for increasing rates of gluten sensitivity, and nearly one percent of people in the U.S. and Europe suffer from celiac disease.

Arcadia’s research aims to identify genetic variants of cereal grains in which the most harmful components of gluten have been naturally reduced.

“Concern about the health effects of gluten is of increasing importance to global consumers and is a rapidly growing market for food manufacturers,” said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia Biosciences. “The goal of our reduced-gluten grains research program is to develop wholesome grains that provide a wider range of food choices for people with gluten-intolerance and celiac disease.”

“Arcadia’s technologies in both nutritional and agronomic aspects of cereal improvement are complementary and position Arcadia’s products to benefit both consumers and farmers,” said Rey. Based in Davis, Calif., Arcadia Biosciences is focused on the development of agricultural products that improve the environment and enhance human health.

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