Over 680 million metric tons of wheat are produced annually worldwide, making it the second most essential cereal grain harvested for human consumption. Wheat is one of the first cereals known to have been domesticated and is the most important source of carbohydrate in the vast majority of cultures. A key component of wheat is gluten. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives texture to the final product. Gluten is the composite of a gliadin and a glutenin, which is conjoined with starch in the endosperm.
Gluten in wheat can be responsible for an adverse immune system reaction. The reaction generally causes inflammation of the small intestine, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can range from mild discomfort and digestive problems to more extreme cases including intestinal damage, ulcers, musculoskeletal problems, and even cancer. The only known treatment for gluten sensitivity is to remove it from the diet. People sensitive to gluten generally feel better on a diet with less gluten.
Calyxt is working to remove the components of gluten responsible for the harmful immune reaction. The development of this wheat variety is still at an early stage but already carries an important hope.