As figures reveal that up to 10 per cent of people are gluten sensitive, DSM has addressed the issue by developing AN-PEP (Tolerase® G), a new dietary enzyme that allows those who are gluten-sensitive to eat and drink without worry.
Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, barley and rye. It gives breads and other grain products their shape, strength and texture. Gluten is a hard to digest protein, since it is rich in the amino acid proline. The human body cannot break down proline-rich proteins such as gluten efficiently and this may be why some people are sensitive to dietary gluten.
As gluten is present in many different foods, following a gluten-free diet is difficult. And even with a gluten-free diet, there is still the risk of unintentional intake of gluten. Studies show that even when following a gluten-free diet, unintentional gluten intake can range from 200 mg/day to up to 3000 mg/day, depending on how strict a gluten-free dieter is.
The most severe reactions occur in the 1% of the population who suffer from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder that makes it impossible to safely consume any food that contains gluten.
Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity generally have milder reactions, and it is this group for which the Tolerase G application – which has now been approved for use in the EU – is designed. Tolerase G is not intended to replace a gluten-free diet, however, and is not intended to treat or prevent celiac disease.
‘Gut health has been on DSM’s radar for a long time,’ says DSM Scientist Luppo Edens, who identified the AN-PEP enzyme. ‘We began screening many years ago for an enzyme that would specifically cleave proline-rich protein fragments, making it easier to break down food proteins that cause problems. We first identified AN-PEP during milk protein allergy research, and realized we could extend the solution to gluten.’