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Australian Researchers Looking Towards New Treatments for Celiac Disease

Posted Jul 22 2010 6:50am

Good news! The mystery of celiac disease is becoming a bit more clear thanks to a fantastic bunch of scientists in Australia. A new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine finds that there are three fragments in the gluten protein that trigger celiac disease. 

For the study, researchers from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Victoria, Australia evaluated 244 people with celiac disease residing in Australia and Britain. The patients participating in the study ate gluten-containing foods for three days while the researchers looked at how the immune system cells responded.

Despite the gluten protein containing more than 16,000 components, the researchers found that only three were involved with the celiac disease response. Being able to isolate these components is a huge step forward in better understanding the disease and finding new alternatives to treatment.

Lead Researcher Dr. Robert Anderson says that the findings could help scientists find a more targeted treatment for celiac disease other than just a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Since their discovery, Dr. Anderson and his colleagues have begun developing an injectable drug that contains small portions of each of the three fragments. The researchers hope that exposing the immune system to small doses of the fragments could help people with celiac adjust to eating them regularly.

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