Scientists believe they may have found a vaccine to treat celiac disease, giving patients the freedom to subdue their gluten-free…
Scientists believe they may have found a vaccine to treat celiac disease, giving patients the freedom to subdue their gluten-free diets too well.
One of the world’s first clinical trials is currently underway in Melbourne, Australia, using injections to reprogram the immune system’s abnormal response to gluten.
The conditions arise when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues like gluten protein – found in wheat, grains, rye and oats – eaten.
This causes damage to the intestinal lining and allows the body to not absorb nutrients from food.
The only treatment available for koeliacs is to stick to a gluten-free diet that facilitates most of the debilitating symptoms.
In extreme cases, the condition may lead to problems such as infertility, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis and even small intestine cancer.
But researchers say they are hopeful. The groundbreaking vaccine will put an end to these restrictive diets.
Arthritis and gastroenterologist Dr. Jason Tye-Din, from Royal Melbourne Hospital, told The Herald Sun vaccine target gluten-specific cells.
He said it teaches the body how to handle gluten more efficiently so that it does not get into the atta ck position “every time someone with celiac is eating a meal.”
“If you can give [the vaccine] in subsequent injections, you can retrain the immune system so that it learns to develop a tolerance,” he said.
“This attempt is important for creating clinical evidence of a treatment concept that would give the benefit beyond that of the gluten-free diet.
” If the trial is positive, it would suggest that there is something that can aim at have a regular diet for. It’s the ultimate hope.
To take the vaccine to the next step, Dr Tye-Din recruits almost 150 patients from all over Australia, New Zealand and the United States to test the injections.
All participants will either to get the active injection or a placebo while undergoing three food challenges that test the vaccine for its symptomatic relief.
Sarah Sleet, Executive Director of Celiac UK, said this trial was an “important step” towards finding a vaccine for celiac disease .
But she warned that further research and clinical trials are needed to ensure there are no side effects and the vaccine is useful.
She said, “In total there have been four phase 1 attempts that showed that NexVax 2 is well tolerated. The vaccine will initially be assessed in combination with a gluten-free diet to protect people from accidental gluten exposure, not as a full replacement for gluten a free diet, although this is ultimately the ultimate goal.
“Progress in the treatment of celiac disease is exciting and promising. However, a cure will be many years in development.”