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SBIR Phase II: Development of An Allergen-Free Peanut Using Genome Editing Technology

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2036153
Agency Tracking Number: 2036153
Amount: $1,196,023.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: BT
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-04-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-03-31
Small Business Information
410 Interpath Parkway Unit J
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
United States
DUNS: 079421634
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Hortense Dodo
 (256) 479-8686
Business Contact
 Hortense Dodo
Phone: (256) 479-8686
Research Institution

The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to address health concerns associated with peanut allergies. Peanut allergies affect a large population and can be extremely dangerous for those with the most severe forms. Given the ubiquity of peanut products, peanut allergy is a significant medical and legal concern worldwide, with a rising incidence of this potentially fatal condition in children. An allergen-free peanut developed from this project has the potential to significantly dampen the life-threatening reactions to peanuts, as well as the following benefits: (1) reducing the overall incidence of food allergy, (2) preserving human lives by eliminating anaphylaxis and death caused by accidental ingestion of peanut, (3) eliminating emotional distress of peanut allergic individuals and their families, (4) enhancing the public perception of peanuts as a health-promoting food, and (5) reducing the number of product recalls due to peanut contamination. The proposed project aims to develop and to commercialize an allergen-free peanut devoid of all clinically documented allergens using a genome-editing tool such as CRISPR/Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated system). Allergic reactions to peanut occur shortly after contact of peanut allergens with their specific IgE antibodies already bound to mast cells. The crosslinking of allergen specific IgE by the respective peanut allergens stimulates mast cells to release chemical mediators responsible for the clinical symptoms including sometime anaphylactic shock or death. Ara h 1, Ara h 2, Ara h 3 and Ara h 6 are the most clinically documented peanut allergens. The objectives of the project are: (1) Construct and validate vectors for Ara h gene editing, transform peanut embryogenic callus and regenerate T0 peanut plants; (2) Identify T0 individuals with deletions in Ara h genes; (3) Assemble lines carrying homozygous deletions in all target Ara h genes; (5) Characterize the selected lines for Ara h mRNA and protein expression; (6) Assess vegetative development of Arah-free lines under greenhouse conditions. If the resulting plants demonstrate tolerance to the gene deletions, the allergen-free peanut will be very significant in protecting the peanut sensitive populations and promoting peanut sales. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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