The Sponsored Funding Report for February:
North Carolina A&T received 12 grants totaling $1.16 million during the month. The FY2011 total now stands at $37.6 million as of February 28.
One highlight of the month’s funding was $499,000 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Mohamed Ahmedna of the Center of Excellence for Post Harvest Technologies.
The project: Post-harvest processing of peanut and wheat products to reduce inherent allergens.
The issue: Thousands of Americans suffer from food allergies, which cause 150-200 fatalities annually. Young children remain the most affected by food allergies, which have been on the rise for reasons that are not well understood. Peanuts and wheat are two economically and nutritionally important crops associated with severe allergies. Their ubiquitous use by the food industry makes it very hard for allergic individuals to find safe food choices.
Abstract: We hypothesize that, under the right combination of physico-chemical and enzymatic processing conditions, food allergens can be reduced or inactivated through various mechanisms that target their vulnerabilities as proteins. Preliminary data obtained in our lab provide promising indication of the potential for this approach in peanuts. This proposal seeks to (1) demonstrate the effectiveness of post-harvest processing of peanut and wheat with endopeptidases and physicochemical treatment in reducing the concentrations of target allergens, (2) confirm the reduction of allergic potential of treated products in patients through clinical testing, and (3) evaluate the sensory acceptability and quality of treated peanut and wheat products. The most effective processing conditions (as judged by immunoassays) will be used to produce samples for confirmation of reduced allergenicity using basophil activation assays in leukocytes from allergic patients. Processing conditions that lead to minimum histamine release in-vitro will be used to process products for skin prick testing among allergic patients to confirm safety. Subsequently, sensory acceptability and quality of hypoallergenic products will be assessed and used as indicator of their commercial potential.
The full list of grants received in February (xslx file):