A team of allergists, molecular biologists and plant physiologists in Italy are collaborating to develop a hypo-allergenic apple that could provide relief to those who suffer from food allergies. Apples aren’t typically known as a potent allergen — at worst, they may cause your tongue and lips to become itchy and blister. But the team of scientists is using the apple as a test case, and they’re trying to decode the genetic markers that cause some people to experience an allergic reaction.

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The team, led by plant physiologist Dr. Alessandro Botton, will seek to identify hypoallergenic varieties and crossing them with other types of apples to produce new hypoallergenic varieties. A recent report from ABC News described the research as genetic modification, but Botton insists that he isn’t changing the genetic makeup of the fruit; instead, he’s using traditional crossings. “I chose to search for hypoallergenic apples among the already available varieties instead of genetically modify them,” Botton explains in an email.

The development of genetically modified foods has been highly controversial, both in the United States and abroad. But Botton and his team decided to instead go the natural route, breeding plants through traditional methods.

Via ABC News

Photos by Abhijit Tembhekar and Deborah Fitchett