Allergic to Brazil nuts and still able to eat them? This might be possible in the future, if Evelien van Boxtel’s PhD project turns out to be successful.
‘We are trying to find out whether it is possible to neutralise the allergenic proteins in Brazil nuts,’ explains Van Boxtel. ‘We are searching for treatment methods that would stop the proteins from reacting with the antibodies of someone who is allergic to Brazil nuts. Manufacturers could use these treatment methods to produce hypoallergenic foods containing Brazil nut ingredients.
Van Boxtel is focusing on the allergenic protein Ber e 1. In the March edition of Molecular Nutrition & Food, she describes how she has managed to isolate the protein from Brazil nuts. ‘We did not think it was a good idea to use recombinant techniques to produce Ber e 1,’ continues Van Boxtel. ‘A tiny difference in structure between the genuine and the recombinant protein would be enough to cause the immune system to react differently.’ / WK