MadSci Network: Immunology

Re: If I'm allergic to fish...

Date: Sat Dec 2 17:31:14 2000
Posted By: Michel Ouellet, Grad student in Microbiology / Immunology
Area of science: Immunology
ID: 974341712.Im

Hello Chris,

The answer to your question is... not necessarily.

It all depends on which protein of fish you are allergic to and what is the 
gene of the fish that is inserted in the target food.

If the gene encodes for the same protein that you are allergic to, there 
are good chances that you will be allergic to the other food.  If, however, 
the gene encodes a protein of the fish that you are not allergic to, then 
you will not develop an allergic reaction.

One important thing to remember is that in an immune reaction, all proteins 
are NOT the same... Some have a high immunogenic potential (they 
very often trigger an immune reaction) and others have low or no 
immunogenic potential at all.  Most people that become allergic to nuts are 
allergic to the same protein, as probably do most people that are allergic 
to fish or seafood.  Scientists who tries to genetically modify a type of 
food will have to make certain that they do not introduce a highly 
immunogenic protein or that a low immunogenic protein in fish do not become 
highly immunogenic in the target food.  That could cause a person to eat... 
say a strawberry that express a fish gene and become allergic to fish 
because they developed an immune reaction to the fish protein.  As you can 
see, a lot of control will have to be implemented over companies that want 
to create genetically modified food.  I do believe that genetically 
modified food represent the future but it will have to be a really strict 
business.  I don't want to become an unknowing laboratory rat if you see 
what I mean!

I hope this answered your question...



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