SBIR Phase I: Development of a transgenic hypoallergenic peanut

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

NgateGen Inc
113 Darlington Road
Huntsville, AL 35801
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to produce and commercialize a hypoallergenic peanut. This new peanut variety will provide broad and efficient protection against peanut allergy at low cost to individuals at risk; i.e., individuals who are clinically declared to be allergic to peanut as well as those who might not be aware yet of their sensitivity to peanut. The hypoallergenic peanut is expected to: 1) Reduce the incidence of peanut allergy and save the lives of individuals who are severely allergic to peanut; 2) Eliminate emotional distress of peanut allergic individuals and their families; 3) Reduce the cost of law suits resulting from peanut allergy; and 4) Gain back the loss endured by the peanut market and improve the U.S. competitive edge in the international arena. Food allergies cost the U.S. $25 billion annually and peanut is a major contributor. This project will bring a significant solution to this problem and reduce the overall cost of food allergy. This SBIR Phase I project proposes to develop a transgenic hypoallergenic peanut that produces a homogeneous population of hypoallergenic peanut seeds. Peanut allergy is on the increase and affects over 8% of U.S. infants and children. Currently, there is no cure for peanut allergy and epinephrine is administered as emergency treatment. RNA interference (RNAi) technology was used to down regulate the most important and potent allergens, and resulted in significant reduction in peanut allergenic potency. However, the peanut seed populations displayed variable levels of allergenic potency. This was attributed to chimerism in the transgenic plants. Friable embryogenic callus (FEC) reduces the risks of generating chimeric transgenic plants. The objectives of this Phase I project are: 1) To transform peanut FEC using Agrobacterium tumefaciens; 2) To perform molecular analyses on transgenic regenerants (T0) and determine integrity and stability of the transgene in the peanut genome; and 3) To perform molecular and immunological analyses on resulting T1 seeds to determine the level of allergenic potency. It is expected that at the end of this SBIR Phase I project, at least one transgenic peanut line with homogeneous populations of hypoallergenic seeds will be selected as commercial prototype for further analysis and mass propagation.