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Suggestions for the Assessment of the Allergenic Potential of Genetically Modified OrganismsSpök A.a · Gaugitsch H.b · Laffer S.c · Pauli G.d · Saito H.e · Sampson H.f · Sibanda E.g · Thomas W.h · van Hage W.i · Valenta R.c
aInter-University Research Centre for Technology, Work, and Culture, Graz, and bAustrian Federal Environment Agency and cDepartment of Pathophysiology, Center for Physiology and Pathophysiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; dDepartment of Pneumology, Strasbourg University Hospitals, Strasbourg, France; eNational Research Institute for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan; fMount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y., USA; gDepartment of Immunology, University of Zimbabwe College of Medicine, Harare, Zimbabwe; hTVW Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Perth, Australia; iDepartment of Medicine, Clinical Immunology and Allergy Unit, Karolinska Institute and University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
The prevalence of allergic diseases has been increasing continuously and, accordingly, there is a great desire to evaluate the allergenic potential of components in our daily environment (e.g., food). Although there is almost no scientific evidence that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) exhibit increased allergenicity compared with the corresponding wild type significant concerns have been raised regarding this matter. In principle, it is possible that the allergenic potential of GMOs may be increased due to the introduction of potential foreign allergens, to potentially upregulated expression of allergenic components caused by the modification of the wild type organism or to different means of exposure. According to the current practice, the proteins to be introduced into a GMO are evaluated for their physiochemical properties, sequence homology with known allergens and occasionally regarding their allergenic activity. We discuss why these current rules and procedures cannot predict or exclude the allergenicity of a given GMO with certainty. As an alternative we suggest to improve the current evaluation by an experimental comparison of the wild-type organism with the whole GMO regarding their potential to elicit reactions in allergic individuals and to induce de novo sensitizations. We also recommend that the suggested assessment procedures be equally applied to GMOs as well as to natural cultivars in order to establish effective measures for allergy prevention.
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