Coeliac disease is a common condition affecting 1 in 100 of people living in the UK. It causes inflammation in the lining of the small intestine (part of the gut) when foods containing gluten are consumed.
Image by Oliver Peel
Bottom line: If you are a coeliac you can’t eat cake, bread or pasta!
The only treatment currently available is a gluten-free diet. However it turns out that even those on the strictest diets are still exposing their digestive systems to gluten. Gluten can hide in the most unexpected of foods and even in gluten-free products.
Thankfully soon there should be a solution for accidental gluten consumption. Scientists at Alvine Pharmaceuticals have created a new pill which may protect the small intestine against the adverse effects of gluten by breaking it down and making it safe to digest for coeliacs.
Lead researcher and Chief Medical Officer of Alvine Pharmaceuticals Daniel Adelman stated that: “The treated patients were indistinguishable from baseline after six weeks, which means the drug appeared to protect against gluten-induced mucosal injury and intestinal inflammation,”
He further informed that: “This drug is not intended to allow you to go have a pizza or French bread,”…”It’s not intended to replace the gluten-free diet — just allow it to be more effective, we hope.”
“There’s a compelling unmet medical need in this disease for the development of a non-dietary treatment for coeliac disease, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Adelman added.
Another re-engineered enzyme named KumaMax could mean that people who are gluten intolerant could introduce cake, muffins and pizza back into their lives.
The study leader Justin Siegel, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, said:
“For some people, even flour in the air makes them stop breathing. Some are very sensitive, and in some it just upsets their stomach a little,” Siegel said. “For those who are hypersensitive, this probably is not going to solve the problem, but it would allow them to go to dinner, and in case any gluten ended up in their meal, they wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
“For those less sensitive, they could pop one before each meal and eat anything they want,” he added.
This is great news for both ceoliacs and people with gluten intolerance however there needs to be many controlled trials carried out first. If all goes well the pills should be available to buy in 2018.