Ice cream researchers have come up with an additive to eliminate the grainy texture that ice cream gets when it sits in the freezer too long. The ingredient is a wheat protein that blocks the formation of the large, rectangular-shaped crystals that ruin the texture of ice cream.
Douglas Goff and his colleagues at the University of Guelph in Canada used a class of proteins from winter wheat, which has adapted to survive winter by halting the growth of ice crystals. The cells of the wheat plant secrete proteins which bind directly to the ice crystals and stop their growth.
To collect the protein, the group grew winter wheat seedlings in cold temperatures so that the plants produced large quantities of the protein. They then harvested the wheat, isolated the proteins and added them to the ice cream.
Only a small amount of protein is needed, says Goff, about 50 to 100 units of protein per million units of the genetically-modified ice cream. The low concentration means the additive will not be expensive.
More research must be done before the wheat proteins are put in commercial brands of ice cream. Right now, the proteins tend to bind to only one face of the crystal, meaning rectangular crystals can still form in the ice cream. The problem can be solved by using specially designed ice cream vats that can mix the proteins evenly throughout the ice cream so that they bind to several crystal faces.
Researchers have proposed altering the freezing properties of ice cream before. But unlike so-called antifreeze proteins isolated from arctic fish or insects, Goff says his protein is more likely to gain public acceptance because it comes from wheat and will be acceptable to vegetarians.
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After gorging on genetically-modified ice cream, use genetically modified mouthwash, which can eliminate tooth decay.
The mouthwash contains a GM version of the same bug that causes tooth decay, but these bacteria do not produce enamel-eroding acid. When the solution is squirted into the mouth, the good bugs take over from the decay-causing Streptococcus mutans bacteria and prevent them from returning. The scientists who have developed the mouthwash say a single five-minute treatment will cost less than $100. Clinical trials will help determine if one application is all that?s needed for lifetime protection from cavities.
Tooth decay is caused not by sugar but by a bacterium which lives in the mouth and turns the sugar into lactic acid. Over time, the acid destroys tooth enamel, causing cavities.Professor Jeffrey Hillman, of the University of Florida, has genetically altered the bacterium called streptococcus mutans into a form which does not produce lactic acid and therefore does not cause tooth decay. He says, ?If this approach works as well as we hope, it has the potential to eliminate the majority of tooth decay.?
Experiments on animals have shown that the GM bacterium took the place of the bad bacterium once it was in the mouth. The GM bacterium did not cause tooth decay even when rats were fed a high-sugar diet. The new strain of bacteria stays permanently on the teeth, preventing other bugs from gaining a foothold. ?It is genetically stable and should be safe for humans,? Hillman says. He hopes to start clinical trials this year, using a solution squirted on the teeth of adult volunteers.
The mouthwash will be most valuable to babies who are just getting their first teeth.?Infants normally acquire Streptococcus mutans via contaminated saliva from their mother or primary caregiver,? he says. ?Children would simply visit their dentist for a squirt of solution on their teeth.?
How do you feel about genetically modified food? To decide, read ?Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers? by Ronnine Cummins and Ben Lilliston,click here.
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