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Why casein is a major food allergen?


Food allergy is a major health concern in Europe since 6 to 8% of children are suffering from it. Furthermore, the prevalence of this pathology has significantly increased during recent years. Among the foods responsible for allergy, milk is one of the most important especially in infants and young children. The proteins involved in milk allergy are the whey proteins and the caseins. During the recent years, sensitivity to casein has increased in terms of both frequency and intensity of IgE response, which is quite surprising since caseins are known to be rapidly and extensively degraded by proteolytic enzyme during digestion, limiting their allergenicity. The objective of the present project is therefore to understand why casein is a major food allergen.

Several hypotheses may explain this phenomenon and will be investigated during this project:
(1) role of casein phosphorylated sequences resistant to digestion,
(2) protection of caseins from digestion by lipids,
(3) impact of technological processes on case in digestibility.

This 3-year project will be realized thanks to a close cooperation between the Institute of Food Research (IFR) in Norwich UK (Drs Mackie and Mills) and the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Poligny France (Dr Dupont). Most of the technical work will be done by Dr. Dupont during a one year stay at IFR where the applicant will deepen his knowledge and expertise in the food allergy area and will acquire technical skills, in particular proteomic techniques, he will need for his future scientific projects. He will use an in vitro digestion gut model previously developed at IFR that he will be able to transfer to INRA after his stay at IFR.

Finally, he will learn about EU project management, as well as networking with other centres involved in the projects IFR leads. On the other side, Dr Dupont will transfer to IFR some immunochemical techniques (ELISA, protein arrays) he has developed to follow the antigenicity of caseins.

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

EIF - Marie Curie actions-Intra-European Fellowships
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Norwich Research Park, Colney
United Kingdom