Transgenic Yeast Helps Eliminate Allergens In Red Wine

wine 071612

Here is good news for wine lovers. Now anyone can enjoy red wine without the fear of allergic reactions, and wake up feeling fine. Wine technologist at the University of British Columbia have developed a new strain of yeast capable of eliminating allergens in red wine that causes intolerance in men and women.

Studies have shown that up to 30 percent of adults suffer from various types of intolerance to red wine. Severe headache, known as 'red wine headache' may be a common indication of intolerance. Rapid heart rate, difficulty in breathing, stomach cramps, skin flushing and itching, congestion and even diarrhea are seen in people with red wine intolerance. As little as 10 ml of wine can be allergic.

Wine is usually fermented using yeast in a two step process and the resultant product may have certain chemicals that causes allergies in human body. In the fermentation process, expensive lactic acid bacteria are added to stabilize wine, but that step creates allergy inducing chemicals.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have modified wine yeast - Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and spliced a gene from a bacterium into its genome. The new gene added to the wine yeast helps in converting malic acid to lactic acid, without producing any allergens.

The new strain of yeast also completed the fermentation process in a single step - by eliminating the expensive second step needed for the production of red wine and white Chardonnay.

It took nearly 15 years to create the new yeast and to test its results. The genetically transformed yeast is now used by some of the leading wine producers in Canada and the US. The research has ensured that Canadian wines can compete globally against some of the world's most reputed brands.

"Advanced scientific knowledge is an important strategic asset for winemakers," said Professor Hennie van Vuuren, director of the Wine Research Center. "We are committed to helping this important industry compete."

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have now turned their attention to mapping the genome of the different varieties of Chardonnay, the green grapes widely used in wine making. Though it is the backbone of the wine industry in British Columbia, few planters know what variety of grapes they are planting for the year.

The genetic research is expected to help wine producers make the right decisions as to which variety of grapes to grow and how to increase the productivity of their vineyards. The research was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

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