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Genetically Modified Soybeans Without Allergy Causing Proteins

by Amrita Surendranath on  December 21, 2015 at 5:38 PM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Soybean is grown both as a food crop as well as for feed and is known for numerous health benefits. Unfortunately, soybean allergic reactions force many people to stay away from this wonder food. Scientists have now developed a genetically modified variant with lowered levels of a protein that causes allergy.
Genetically Modified Soybeans Without Allergy Causing Proteins
Genetically Modified Soybeans Without Allergy Causing Proteins
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Soybean has piqued the interest of many scientists across the world due to various health benefits from consuming this bean. Some of the latest research on soybean that made it to the headlines this year include

‘Scientists have developed a new variant of soybean with low allergy causing protein level but with health benefits intact.’
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1. Soybean for skeletal muscle strength and support:

A research study conducted by Hashimoto and colleagues published in The Journal of Medical Investigation found that supplementation with soy food aided in preventing muscle atrophy and for skeletal strength even among people who were bedridden.

2. Soybean lowers cholesterol:

Researchers have found soybean stimulates certain pathways in our body, which increase the uptake of LDL cholesterol.

3. Soybean improves fertility:

A study by Jose Vanegas and colleagues, published in The Journal Fertility and Sterility, found that people who were on a soy diet showed improved chances of having a live birth when on assisted reproductive technology (ART).

4. Soybean reduces chances of prostate cancer:

Eating soy foods have been found to lower the risk of prostate cancer among men. This is a boon for older men who are at higher risk for the disease. Moreover, soy foods also aid in controlling the spread of cancer.

5. Soybean is very good for women:

This wonder bean has been found to reduce symptoms of hot flashes and mood swings among post- menopausal women. Moreover, it improves the retention of calcium in the bones.

The benefits of soybean are extensive, and the inclusion of this legume in the diet will boost health and vitality. However, its use is limited by the severe allergic reaction exhibited by some individuals.

This is mitigated by a newly developed variant of soybean that has lowered levels of allergy-causing proteins. This research, conducted by Monica A. Schmidt and colleagues, was aimed at lowering factors that lead to allergy.

Soybean has many nutritional benefits but it also consists of anti-nutritional elements which prevent the uptake of nutrients from the blood. This required the heat treatment of soybean, to lower such factors, before consumption, resulting in increased energy use.

Benefits of the Genetically Modified Soybean Variant

The new variety of soybean has the following benefits apart from the many benefits that are available in soybeans.
  • Eliminates the need for heat treatment as a seed
  • Lowers the risk of allergic reactions
  • Can be used as an important food source

How It Was Developed

Studies have found that there are three major soy proteins, which are contributing factors for soy allergy;

a) P34- important allergen

b) Kunitz Trypsin inhibitor (Ti)- affects digestion of soybean

c) Lectins (Le) - affects the uptake of nutrients from other sources of food

Soybean food allergy is not only restricted to human but also to fish, cattle, dogs and pigs which prevent its use as a feed.

The researchers used null genes, or genes that do not produce these proteins, to develop a new variety of soybean with no lectins and lowered level of Ti and P34. There are no visual differences between the latest variant and the older versions. Scientists now hope that as benefits of this soybean are plenty with minimal risk of allergy, there would be increased consumption of soybean as food for humans and as feed for animals.

References:

1. http://www.eufic.org/page/en/show/latest-science-news/fftid/Researchers_develop_new_variety_of_
soybean_lacking_the_proteins_that_cause_allergic_reactions/

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26399344

3. Monica A. Schmidt, Theodore Hymowitz, Eliot M. Herman; " Breeding and characterization of soybean Triple Null; a stack of recessive alleles of Kunitz Trypsin Inhibitor, Soybean Agglutinin, and P34 allergen nulls"; Plant Breeding, June 2015

Source: Medindia
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