Gluten-free bread 'could taste like real thing' with new technology

Wednesday 10th April 2024, 9:00am

Scottish scientists are exploring technology that could unlock the secret to making baked goods and beer gluten-free without compromising on taste.

(L-R) Austin Burroughs, Ioannis Stasinopolous, Niki Christopoulou - image credit to STV

An Edinburgh-based start-up said the technology they are exploring “could create gluten-safe food products, such as bread, while keeping the taste and texture of the real thing”.

The start-up hopes that by preserving the “harmless” parts of gluten that contribute to the taste, smell, look, and feel of regular wheat-based goods while dispelling common issues associated with existing gluten-free products.

Scientists from Prozymi Biolabs, a biotechnology business with facilities at Roslin Innovation Centre, are testing a new enzyme technology that degrades gliadin, the protein that causes a reaction to those with celiac disease. The technology means that while gluten would remain present in the products, with gliadin deactivated it will be safe to consume for those with an intolerance. As well as baked goods, a range of other industries could also benefit from the approach, including pharmaceuticals, drinks, and pet food, the scientists said.

With many of the substitutes used in gluten-free alternatives being made up of ingredients sourced globally, the company said it could lower the carbon footprint of the products by reducing the reliance of imports. The next step for the business will involve patenting and licensing the enzyme technology to bread producers.

"Prozymi Biolabs is a brilliant testament to the impact of collaboration between science and industry, demonstrating the potential to enhance the quality of foods for people with gluten intolerance. Not only does it address the challenges of existing alternative products and the associated carbon footprint, but it also showcases the adaptability of enzyme technology across various industries. We look forward to continuing our support and witnessing Prozymi’s next steps in its effort towards a healthier and more sustainable bioeconomy.”

Dr Liz Fletcher, director of business engagement at IBioIC

Prozymi Biolabs is one of ten new companies to take part in the first Biotech Innovators programme. The initiative is designed to provide SMEs, spinouts and start-ups with access to commercial and technical expertise to help bring new bio-based products and services into the bio economy.

As well as consulting with bakers to explore the creation of the gluten-safe loafs, the research is backed by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) and received £65,000 of funding at the Scottish EDGE Awards in November 2023. The start-up also recently secured £100,000 through the Innovate UK bio-based manufacturing Launchpad competition for Scotland.

“We are thrilled with the progress we have made so far. I have several close friends that are sensitive to gluten, so it is exciting to think that the technology we are developing could have an influence on the food they consume. Based on the results so far, we have the opportunity to explore other avenues, including gluten-safe beer and better quality supplements for celiacs. The tailored support we received through the Biotech Innovators programme has been really helpful. It enabled us to meet with other biotech startups, find investors that are relevant to our sector, and initiate collaborations with the IBioIC scale-up centres.”

Dr Ioannis Stasinopoulos, co-founder of Prozymi Biolabs

Article source: STV