Allergen-Free Peanut Developed - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/25/07-Tyler

Allergen-Free Peanut Developed

At a young age, Jason Reis had to learn to use a lifesaving Epi-pen.

"My tongue will get itchy, and my face will be red, and I will have spots on my face," says Jason.

He's one of the three million American's suffering from a peanut allergy; a serious diagnosis which causes 90% of food allergy deaths.

Dr. Paul Sharkey at UT Health Center says it's becoming a bigger problem than it used to be.

"I know that when I first started practice 11 years ago, we saw peanut allergic patients, but it wasn't common," says Sharkey.

Researchers at North Carolina A&T University have developed the first allergen-free peanut. Mohamed Ahmedna says the biological process is done after the peanut is harvested. It doesn't change the taste or quality of the treated peanut.

"It's rewarding to see your research or research of your colleagues have the potential to impact the life of the citizens of the state, and for that matter the nation in general," says Dr. Ahmedna.

Dr. Sharkey says the development does offer promise, but only if it can be widely adopted.

"If it costs too much to use, the genetically altered peanut, then what we worry about is manufacturers not wanting to pay the extra money for it.  If the price is good though, I can't really see much of a downside to it," says Sharkey.

Researchers say food companies are already showing a great deal of interest in the process, and they're working to apply it to other foods as well.

There is a patent pending on the process.  It will still have to undergo FDA approval.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

 

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