The LowAllergen project is led by the food and nutrition specialists from the Fraunhofer IVV in Freising. They are collaborating with the Fraunhofer IZI, the Fraunhofer ITEM (Hanover), Fraunhofer IME (Aachen) and the dermatology department at the university hospital in Leipzig. LowAllergen will generate a basis for the production of food with reduced allergenic properties. Substances with allergenic potential in food mean a restrictions if not a threat for the life of allergy sufferers. The increased and often unnoticed usage of such substances leads to a growing exposition of consumers and increased risk for healthy people to acquire allergies.
The reduction of the allergenic potential of food ingredients could be a significant contribution to improve food safety. The principal requirements for this are processes suitable for the reduction of the allergenic features of food ingredients as well as detection systems, which are able to measure the allergenic potential safely and reproducibly.
Existing test systems for the application in the food industries are well suitable for the basic detection of allergenic components but they cannot reveal any information about the actual specific allergenicity. In addition, the production of hypoallergenic protein ingredients has so far relied on the usage inhomogeneous and difficult to obtain sera from allergic patients. The development of hypoallergenic food is therefore as sophisticated as unspecific and remains restricted to special groups of products, e.g. baby food. The main strategy for allergic patients and such being at risk acquiring allergies is the consequent omission of food with potentially allergenic substances. In this project we will be first to develop and test new diagnostic and food engineering technologies. With the soy bean as an example we want to detect and reduce the allergenic potential of food ingredients.
The molecular structures (epitopes), which are recognized by the allergy causing types of antibodies, will not only be investigated per protein. The project will characterize them in more detail on the molecular level of amino acids with three complementary approaches. This will enable the development of antibody based assays for each epitope as well as new concepts for the processes to generate hypoallergenic food ingredients. This requires special chemical, physical, and enzymatic treatments for the reduction of the allergenic potential while maintaining the sensory and functional characteristics of ingredients.
This project is supported by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for three years with several million euros. The Ligand Development Unit is partially responsible for the purification of proteins and primarily the identification of epitopes and mimotopes of the allergic soy proteins.