A new variety of wheat has been developed in the laboratory with medical benefits in the areas of bowel health, diabetes and obesity.

Experimental leader Dr Matthew Morell said: “The wheat had a significantly altered starch composition, increasing the amount of amylose from about 25 to 70%.”
Morell said having less amylase in the wheat, which is resistant to digestion, means it has potential as a food with a low glycaemic index. He also said that Starch resistant to digestion also generates favourable changes in the gastro-intestinal tract – promoting bowel health and reducing colorectal cancer risk. Animal trials on rats supported the findings.

Science research company CSIRO Plant Industry developed the variety, with its findings published today (28 February) in the international science journal.

Researchers used CSIRO-developed RNAi gene silencing techniques to suppress the expression of two starch-branching enzymes in an experimental wheat.

Director of Food Futures Flagship, Bruce Lee, who worked with CSIRO, said: “These new wheats produce significant levels of resistant starch. They can be incorporated as wholegrain into breads, cereals and other foods, giving us the opportunity to improve human health.”