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Food-Processing approaches to reduce allergenic potential of proteins


Incidence of food allergy, including tree nuts, is rapidly increasing, and is a major food safety concern. Among tree nuts, almonds and walnuts are widely consumed in Spain; together with peanuts and hazelnuts they are the most commonly-cited allergen sour ces. However, to date, very few studies on altering the allergenicity of almond/walnut proteins have been performed in comparison with those on peanut/hazelnut.FOPRAPRA is a novel multidisciplinary, trans-sectorial project to examine the molecular basis of changes in the allergenic activity of proteins from walnuts and almonds [the latter being grown in Spain for export and home use] and determine means for their reduction. It is proposed by a candidate with broad experience in macromolecular chemistry and analysis and food allergy, who will work at a leading Spanish food research centre.The primary objective is gain information on the effect of processing and the nature/extent of component interactions on the structure/subsequent digestion of walnut and alm ond proteins. The effects of [1] thermal and novel processing (e.g. high pressure) and [2] carbohydrate interactions on allergen structures and their IgE-reactivity will be examined, in collaboration with clinical researchers from Madrid. State-of-the-art biochemical and spectroscopic methods will be used for structural studies and characterising carbohydrate-allergen interactions; advanced mass spectrometry techniques will be used to study allergen digestion. A Reintegration Grant would provide an ideal op portunity to transfer scientific knowledge, contacts and experience acquired during the two-year FP5 Marie Curie Grant in the UK to the experienced host institution in Spain. This will facilitate the professional reintegration, offer a basis for further re search funding, for training and networking at national/European level, and for development of durable trans-sectorial co-operations with national/European partners, including clinicians and industry.

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