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New Research May Find a Breakthrough in Celiac Disease

Patients may see new treatment for celiac disease very soon. Learn more about what researchers are currently developing!

New Research May Find a Breakthrough in Celiac Disease

The organization, Beyond Celiac, states that about one in 100 Americans have celiac disease and their quality of life is negatively affected. There is hope on the horizon; however, a partnership between an industrial pharmaceutical company and a university lab has potentially found a promising help for celiac disease.

The University of Chicago’s Medical School claims there are several approaches being tested to help those with celiac disease. These opportunities vary from medications that alter the immune system to drugs that interact with gluten and negate its potential harm.

Another potential cure looks at proteins and the antigens inside gluten that cause the immune system to attack the digestive system. This test is being worked on by the Technical University of Vienna and Sciotech Diagnostic Technologies GmbH.

Antigens live on viruses and fungi that cause immune reactions. The immune system targets each antigen individually. "Our bodies produce antibodies that fit intruding antigens precisely, like a key to a lock. This immune response makes these antigens harmless," Professor Oliver Spadiut. The study is looking at a way to make two antibodies attach to the gluten molecule and stop it from activating immune comebacks. Dr. Spadiut goes on to explainthatthese two antibodies turn off the gluten.

An Anti-Celiac Pill that Works?

Those with celiac disease are excited to read about the possibility to eat gluten in the foreseeable future. Right now, the only way to counteract celiac disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. A gluten-free diet can be challenging, and the foods involved are costly. Even if you follow a strict gluten-free diet, accidental ingestion of gluten through cross-contamination happens and jeopardizes your lifestyle and health.

Gluten causes an immune reaction in the body that damages the small intestine. A new vaccine is now in the next stage of research, and it's designed to counteract the immune responses in the body.

This immunization prevents the inflammatory immune response to gluten. The vaccine has been proven to be safe in previous trials in 2011, and trial number two is set to take place in labs in Melbourne, Australia. Researchers have contacted 150 celiac patients from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to participate in this trial.

This immunization is not a preventive vaccine, but it stimulates the body’s immune system to treat the disease. Small amounts of the vaccine are given at the beginning of the treatment then the dosage is gradually increased. The idea is to help the body build up resistance to the gluten protein found in many grains.

“The vaccine is designed to target the 90 percent of celiac disease patients with the HLA-DQ2 genetic form of the disease,” Dr. Jason Tye-Din, a gastroenterologist and head of celiac research at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, told The Sydney Morning Herald. “A successful therapy that can restore normal gluten tolerance would revolutionize celiac disease management,” he said.

People with celiac disease are excited about the possibilities of eating gluten, but Dr. Tye-Din explains those with celiac disease won’t be able to eat gluten immediately, a series of vaccinations need to be given to build the body’s immune system slowly.

Dr. Tye-Din excitedly reports that results from Phase 1 trials proved that the therapy was safe. It was also well-tolerated at the highest doses administered, and tests showed the intended biological effect on the immune system.

Other tests are being done on the antigens inside the gluten protein that cause immune reactions. Researchers state that antibodies can’t be injected or taken as a pill, you need to tell bacterium already in the body to produce the antibodies. Scientists further tell us this is the hard part because sometimes, the bacteria involved produces flawed antibodies.

Researchers further say that there are always difficulties with new medications and drugs. Experimental drugs often work in the lab, but when produced on a large scale they don’t work, are very expensive, or not everyone can receive the new drug.

How Far Away Are New Celiac Treatments?

However, with new technologies and findings, it might be possible to have a pharmaceutical drug ready for those with celiac disease by 2021. The next step to see if the drug works is to put it through human testing. The release of the drug may be years away, but it is getting closer when you might eat gluten, take a pill, and have no reaction.

Other new drugs to treat celiac disease are a few years away before they can be marketed. Many early results have been promising, but none have started safety trials or the final steps before the Food and Drug Administration approves and allows commercial manufacture.

Some drugs are being tested to see if a person with celiac disease needs to take a vaccine on a regular schedule or take a pill right before you eat gluten. If approved by the FDA those with celiac disease can still only eat gluten in small amounts.

There is no commercially available treatment in testing that will give people with celiac disease the ability to eat unlimited gluten products. In addition, there is no hint that a cure is on the horizon.

Complications of Celiac Disease

Scientists don’t understand why gluten causes your immune system to attack your small intestine, but the disease causes severe damages and problems that go beyond the digestive system.

Known as a hereditary autoimmune disease, celiac disease causes digestive problems in 1 in one-hundred people globally, reports the Celiac Disease Foundation. If left untreated and undiagnosed, celiac causes very harmful intestinal problems like lymphoma and other types of cancers.

All parts of the body communicate with each other. Because of this communication, those with celiac disease have gallbladder, liver and pancreas conditions. You can also experience anxiety or depression.

All you can do if you have celiac disease is adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. Watch for vaccines and pills to become available, but once these are on the market, still maintain a good diet and don’t go crazy eating gluten products.