CCMAR researchers won ANI award with a hypoallergenic fish project
Our researchers Pedro Rodrigues, Cláudia Raposo and Denise Schrama won the Born from Knowledge 2020 award with their research project "Development of a farmed fish with reduced allergenic potential” - ALLYFISH". The award was assigned by the Agência Nacional de Inovação (ANI), as part of the Food & Nutrition Awards, on November 18th.
The Allyfish project aims to produce a hypoallergenic fish that is tolerated by those affected by food allergies, through a multidisciplinary approach from production to the final consumer. "This project intends to make accessible this important source of protein, which causes allergic reactions in 2% to 5% of the adult world population, with special incidence on children and youths", says our researcher Pedro Rodrigues in a declaration to Lusa.
It is known that 95% of allergies to fish are due to the presence of a certain protein - b-parvalbumin - which is found in the muscle of these animals. To decrease the presence of this protein, researchers have introduced specific molecules, such as EDTA, in the feed of aquaculture fish (sea bream and sea bass) and also try to modify the three-dimensional form of the protein, removing calcium and making it practically non-allergenic. "We put in the fish feed, molecules that will steal the calcium in half and not having it, the molecule cannot incorporate it and takes a form that is less allergenic," explained Pedro Rodrigues.
The tests conducted on patients allergic to fish left the team satisfied, as they showed a 50% reduction in allergic reactions to the consumption of these fish and in the other 30% of patients there was a reduction in the degree of allergenicity. The tasting tests carried out in collaboration with the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) showed that there was no change in the quality and taste of the fish and that the amount of calcium present in the fish muscle is within the established limits for human consumption.
Despite these results, the research project will continue to be developed, since the team wants to understand how it will be possible to increase this percentage and reduce the degree of allergy and reach a fish that is 100% hypoallergenic.