Novel proteins and their allergenic sensitization capacity – the PREFER Project

SEPT. 2022 – There is great interest in proteins from new non-animal resources such as algae within the food industry. Before manufacturers incorporate these new proteins into their products, they must determine whether these components can cause hypersensitivity. Sensitization – the first stage in developing an allergy – is when the immune system recognizes a (new) protein as potentially harmful. If the reaction continues, this may lead to a food allergy. Therefore new or novel ingredients are tested before their large-scale commercialization to avoid food intolerance and allergic reactions in consumers.

PREFER: predicting the allergic sensitization capacity of novel dietary proteins

Validated- and cell culture-based models that predict the allergenic sensitization properties of (novel) proteins in foods. That is the intended outcome of PREFER: a public-private partnership coordinated by Wageningen University & Research.

Therefore in the project, a toolbox is being developed and optimized for predicting the allergenic sensitization potential of proteins. This is done based on in-vitro models, including organ-on-a-chip systems representing the immune response. Think of cultures with cells originating from the intestinal and skin epithelium, such as different types of immune cells (dendritic cells, T cells and B cells). The toolbox is validated with data from clinical research.


In this project, we collaborate with esteemed parties to preserve our planet, produce healthier food, and tackle food shortages head-on. This project is being conducted in close collaboration with the following partners: