Scientists May Be Close To Curing Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance
Whether you have a mild gluten intolerance or full-blown celiac disease, we've got good news for you: In a recent clinical trial, the use of nanoparticles containing gliadin showed promise in "reprogramming" immune responses to gluten.
It's estimated that celiac could affect up to 2.4% of the world's population, with even more having general intolerances (6% of Americans according to this estimation). Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—and for anyone who's experienced the discomfort that can come from some carbs, having issues with gluten can put a serious damper on dinnertime.
But thanks to these findings, giving up your gluten faves may soon be a thing of the past.
Here's what they discovered.
So, gliadin makes up about 70% the protein in gluten, and it's what actually causes the immune response in people with celiac or gluten intolerances. Consistent exposure to gliadin when you're intolerant will ultimately wreak havoc on your gut over time, leading to things like leaky gut and chronic inflammation.
This intolerance is a result of faulty white blood cells called "gliadin-specific T lymphocytes," but in this novel approach to treatment, scientists actually figured out how to get those cells functioning properly by injecting nanoparticles with gliadin into mice. (The nanoparticles are referred to as TIMP-GLIA.)
Following the injections, the celiac model mice had noticeably less activation of the gliadin-specific T lymphocytes, lower inflammation and tissue damage, and showed further signs of gluten tolerance in their genes.
Promising treatment in the works.
Since then, a pharmaceutical company has received a license to develop this treatment for humans. Their early clinical trials did show successful translations of the original results from mice to humans, which suggests TIMP-GLIA does effectively quell the immune response to gluten in people.
Considering the only current treatment for folks with celiac disease is to go gluten-free entirely and indefinitely, these findings come as welcome news. With the success of these trials, next up researchers want to see if this immunotherapy method can be applied to other autoimmune diseases like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
But until the findings go mainstream, there are luckily lots of gluten-free recipes to try in the meantime.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.