An estimated 2.6 million Americans are allergic to eggs. Researchers at Hiroshima University have come up with a way to produce eggs that are missing ovomucoid, the protein responsible for triggering reactions in people with hen’s egg allergy.
Their findings, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, describe their process of utilizing genome editing to “knock out” the gene responsible for producing the problematic protein.
The specific protein, comprising some 11% of all protein contained in egg whites, has a role in protecting the embryo developing in the egg from harmful invaders.
Ryo Ezako, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life at Hiroshima University, Japan, explains:
To use OVM-knockout chicken eggs as food, it is important to evaluate its safety as food. In this study, we examined the presence or absence of mutant protein expression, vector sequence insertion, and off-target effects in chickens knocked out with OVM by platinum Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs).
The modified chickens produced eggs that were then tested for the absence of the ovomucoid protein, its mutant proteins, and other off-target effects. They confirmed there was no trace of the allergenic protein.
At this stage, it has been confirmed the modified eggs are less allergenic than standard eggs and are safe for use in heat-processed foods. The researchers will continue their work to verify the safety profile of the allergen-free eggs with regard to egg allergy and confirm efficacy via clinical trials.
- Scientists create OVM-knockout egg, allergy-free and safe for all — Interesting Engineering
- Transcription activator-like effector nuclease-mediated deletion safely eliminates the major egg allergen ovomucoid in chickens — Food and Chemical Toxicology
- Facts and Statistics — FARE