The aim of this proposal is to investigate whether transglutaminase mediated modification can be used to reduce the allergenic potential of ovomucoid and ovalbumin present in egg white. The rising levels of allergies are a serious cause for concern within the European Union, especially in children. Allergic diseases affect between 10-20% of the population and usually start during infancy, childhood or adolescence, and up to 5% children have food allergy (www.foodallergy.org). Food allergies are more prevalent in children, due to an immature gastrointestinal epithelial membrane barrier, allowing more proteins through the barrier and into circulation. Allergy to egg is one of the major allergies in infants and young children. This project will involve studies that could provide important information about how to manage egg proteins hypersensitivity. Modification of proteins by transglutaminase is thought to have beneficial effects on their allergenic properties. Through improved understanding of this effect, we aim to develop strategies for enzymatically modifying the major egg allergens such as ovalbumin and ovomucoid with transglutaminase to reduce the immunoreactivity of these proteins. To achieve this we require a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together the following key skills and expertise: · Biochemistry skills and expertise are required to modify ovalbumin and ovomucoid using transglutaminase and to evaluate the antigenicity (ability of a protein or a peptide to bind an antibody) and the allergenicity of the modified forms. · Physiological expertise is required to define and develop accurate models of protein digestion which are representative of the in vivo situation. In particular models that are relevant to the infant gut where egg allergy is developed. · Immunological skill to use both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to study the persistence of potential epitopes through simulated digestion.
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