An enduring mystery for allergy researchers has been the unpredictable distribution of allergens in plants. For example, being allergic to birch pollen can predispose a person to allergy from distantly related plant foods such as celery, apple or soy.
Most allergens are proteins. Research published on Tuesday identifies 129 plant allergens in just four main protein families. “Knowing what makes a protein more likely to become an allergen could make it easier for manufacturers to identify potential allergens in novel foods and ingredients, preventing them from reaching the consumer”, said Dr Clare Mills, head of the allergy research team at the UK’s Institute of Food Research.
Proteins are constructed from amino acids, and previous research has focused on analysing the sequence of amino acids to identify potential allergens. However, this can lead to false predictions. Sequence data alone does not reveal how amino acids interact to construct proteins.
Zoe Dunford | alfa
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