Scientists use pulsed light to modify the protein that causes milk allergy

February 3, 2015, University of Granada
The spanish scientists from the University of Granada

Spanish scientists from the U. of Granada and the Azti-Tecnalia technology centre have designed a type of lactose protein which is easier to digest by humans, and which could lower the allergenicity of milk. They have done this without at all altering its functional properties.

The researchers have managed to modify a type of lactose called β-lactoglobulin artificially by means of a treatment with . This protein, which is present in lactose serum, is responsible for approximately 10% of milk-related allergies. As a result of this treatment, milk becomes much more digestible.

Julia Maldonado-Valderrama, a researcher at the University of Granada involved in this project, explains that β-lactoglobulin is difficult to digest because this protein has a compact and complex structure that resists enzymatic processing during digestion. "This complexity is nevertheless necessary for proteins to fulfil their structural function as stabilizing agents of emulsions or foams."

One way to facilitate the digestion of proteins could be to break up or dismantle their structure. However, if the structure of the protein is severely degraded it loses is functional properties.

Modify the proteins

"In this project, which has been published in the journal Soft Matter, we have used a type of lactose protein modified by means of a treatment with pulsed light, a method of bacterial inactivation which is widely used in the food industry, but never before used to modify proteins". This process, patented by the team at the Azti-Tecnalia technology centre, degrades the structure of the protein by increasing the amount of light pulses.

With this method, scientists confirmed that, first, the functional properties of the protein are not affected by the pulsed light treatment. "We actually demonstrated that in some cases pulsed light even improves the emulsive properties of lactose protein", Maldonado-Valderrama points out. "We then studied the effects of this pulsed light modified protein upon digestion".

In order to do so the researchers employed a device designed and built at the University of Granada, called Octopus, which simulates the digestive process of a protein in a single drop of emulsion. Thus, the simulation of the digestive process demonstrated that the pulsed light treatment facilitates digestion of this protein, in particular in the small intestine.

"Finding a way of improving the digestibility of proteins without altering their functional properties is a current challenge within food technology and, in this respect, the pulsed light treatment is a very promising tool when it comes to the design of low-allergy food products", the University of Granada researcher concludes.

Explore further: New patent to establish if a person will suffer from burns with laser hair removal treatments

More information: "Improved digestibility of β-lactoglobulin by pulsed light processing: dilatational and shear study." Soft Matter, 2014 DOI: 10.1039/C4SM01667J

Related Stories

Shortcut to protein portraits

December 16, 2014

All living organisms, from bacteria to humans, rely on proteins to perform their vital functions. How these proteins accomplish their tasks depends on their structure. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have now ...

High-quality whey proteins for foodstuffs

January 17, 2014

Whey resulting from cheese production contains valuable proteins that still often remain unused. In the EU project Whey2Food the University of Hohenheim and the Fraunhofer IGB, together with partners from industry, are investigating ...

Recommended for you

A way to make cleaner metal-free perovskites at low cost

July 13, 2018

A team of researchers at Southeast University in China has found a way to make metal-free perovskites in a useable form. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their technique and how well it ...

The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in

July 13, 2018

Vampires can turn humans into vampires, but to enter a human's house, they must be invited in. Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, writing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, have uncovered details of how ...

Bioengineers create pathway to personalized medicine

July 12, 2018

Engineering cellular biology, minus the actual cell, is a growing area of interest in biotechnology and synthetic biology. It's known as cell-free protein synthesis, or CFPS, and it has potential to provide sustainable ways ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.