Good news for people with coeliac disease: you might be able to eat bread again someday.
Nexvax2, a vaccine targeting the immune system with the intention of preventing inflammation that occurs when people with coeliac disease consume gluten, is about undergo its second round of testing, according to a recent press release. During its initial trial phase in 2011, it was found to be safe, and an influx of $40 million in funding has allowed the company behind it, ImmusanT, to continue research.
The trial will kick off in Melbourne, followed by other cities in Australia. Eventually the company hopes to enroll a total of 150 patients in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, and for people who have it, gluten is the enemy. The protein found in wheat, barley, and rye damages the small intestines and brings on severe gastrointestinal issues like stomach pain and diarrhoea. Currently, there is no treatment for coeliac disease-other than entirely refraining from gluten, which can be very difficult. In addition to the obvious culprits-bread, cereals, pasta-gluten hides in everyday foods like soy sauce, salad dressing, and sauces.
“The vaccine is designed to target the 90 percent of coeliac disease patients with the HLA-DQ2 genetic form of disease,” Jason Tye-Din, the head of coeliac research and gastroenterologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, explained to the Sydney Morning Herald. “A successful therapy that can restore normal gluten tolerance would revolutionise coeliac disease management.”
However, the vaccine won’t be an instant fix for coeliac disease sufferers. Instead, it will work to help them slowly build up an immunity to the proteins in gluten and eliminate all the negative side effects. Nonetheless, if it does pass the next phase of trials, it could be a total game-changer for those with serious gluten intolerance.
Coeliac disease symptoms include the aforementioned gastrointestinal issues, as well as weight loss, fatigue, irritability, and more. Talk to your doctor if you believe you might have this condition.