ALLPret: Allergenicity Prediction Toolbox for novel foods

ALLPret: Allergenicity Prediction Toolbox for novel foods

The EC funded Horizon Europe Marie Curie Doctoral Training Network ALLPreT project is an international PhD programme on new approaches, tools, and assays to enable the safe introduction of novel foods and protect humans from unacceptable food allergy risks coordinated by the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU). Together with 9 academic and 12 associated partners including industry partners across EU and US, it offers a unique opportunity to excellent Ph.D candidates (early stage researchers, ESRs) to gain experience and skills with short-term selected secondments within a world class consortium.

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The ALLPreT project:

Introducing novel foods, such as insects, will contribute to the security and sustainability of European and global food supplies. However, these novel foods need to be safe (EU regulation 2015/2283). Determining the allergenic potential of food proteins is essential to the safety assessment of novel foods. Unfortunately, current methods to assess de novo allergenicity lack predictive power and are not validated. Consequently, food producers and risk assessors struggle with allergenicity assessment, slowing down the introduction of novel foods in our food supply. Enabling the safe introduction of novel foods, while protecting humans from unacceptable food allergy risks, calls for a multidisciplinary approach.

The ALLPreT Doctoral Training Network consists of a multidisciplinary group of researchers from The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Serbia, Denmark, and Bulgaria, aiming to discover new approaches, tools, and assays to enable the safe introduction of novel foods and protect humans from unacceptable food allergy risks. This will be done by unravelling food allergy mechanisms (e.g., route of sensitization (oral, respiratory and skin), involvement immune cells, in vitro/ in vivo responses), investigate intrinsic properties of allergenic proteins (e.g., epitopes, digestibility, physicochemical properties) and exploring the use of a threshold of sensitization.

Training goal

ALLPreT will train the next generation of scientists who can tackle the challenges in the current food allergy assessment of novel food products.

ALLPreT will train early stage researchers (ESRs) in the core aspects of food allergy risk assessment, immunology, protein chemistry, bioinformatics, in vitro/in vivo/in silico model development and complementary “soft” skills to deliver well educated young scientists, with a unique position within the EU labour market.

Scientific goal

ALLPreT will explore the new field of research on de novo sensitisation by novel foods and develop a toolbox with in vitro/in vivo/in silico allergenicity prediction tools that are scientifically sound, validated and easily usable by industry and food safety authorities. This toolbox will contribute to fast and accurate safety assessment, thereby speeding up safety approval and market uptake of novel foods.

The ALLPreT project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101072377

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