GM rice pomises allergy cure

London, November 1:

Scientists have genetically modified rice so that it reduces allergic responses in mice, a development that could lead to safer allergy treatment for humans.

Fumio Takaiwa, of National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Japan, reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that putting allergy vaccines in food would deliver relief more efficiently and avoid the risk of anaphylactic reaction.

A report by Royal College of Physicians in 2003 found that 30per cent adults and 40per cent of children in Britain suffered from an allergy, with numbers steadily rising. In 1990, peanut allergy was rare but six years later it affected one in 200 children.

Modern allergy treatments work by exposing sufferers to small amounts of the allergen in the form of injections, in the hope that the body will build up resistance. Dr Takaiwa employed an experimental technique called peptide immunotherapy, where only parts of the allergen protein are used in the treatment.