Gluten Free Guerrillas

A Cure For Coeliacs?

A recent article in an Australian Newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald carried this article.


Coeliac sufferers might not have to cut gluten out of their diet after a successful Australian drug trial.

Currently, the only option for people with coeliac disease is to eliminate foods containing gluten, such as bread, pasta and biscuits.

But scientists at Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have found first-stage drug trials were "well tolerated" by all 34 people given the jab.

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"This is the first trial of a drug that may potentially allow people to return to a normal diet and to return to good health," said Jason Tye-Din, a gastroenterologist at the institute.

The treatment comprised a number of fragments of gluten that switch off the abnormal immune response coeliac sufferers have when they eat gluten, he said.

"The concept is that perhaps through a series of injections people's immune systems become desensitised," he said.

More tests will be done, and Dr Tye-Din hopes the drug will be available to reverse and treat coeliac disease in the next six years.

About one in 100 Australians had the disease, and 75 per cent of sufferers - more than 150,000 Aussies - don't know they have it, said Dr Tye-Din.

The main symptoms are bloating, stomach aches, lethargy and anaemia, but can also include infertility and mouth ulcers.

Untreated, it can lead to brittle bones, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

© 2011 AAP

7 Replies

Hi all. Found the latest article from the same paper.

Hope it is interesting to all to see the research being done at great cost by Bob Anderson and Jason Tye Din both clever doctors.

Drug trial gives hope for coeliac sufferers

Nicky Phillips Science

May 9, 2011

AUSTRALIAN researchers developing the world's first vaccine against coeliac disease have revealed promising results from human trials of a prototype drug.

A first-stage trial of the vaccine found it was safe and had the desired biological response in patients with the disorder.

Scientists will conduct larger trials to show the vaccine can prevent and treat the disease, which is caused by an immune reaction to the protein gluten - found in wheat, rye, oats and barley.

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The disorder, which causes gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhoea, affects about one in 100 Australians.

The vaccine contains small fragments of three gluten proteins known to trigger the disorder. Bob Anderson, an immunologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, who first identified the proteins, said the aim of the drug was to desensitise patients to the three specific gluten peptides, a result that has been demonstrated in mice given small doses of the drug over a month.

''The drug triggers the death of the cells that cause the damaging immune response,'' he said. ''By doing that you switch the immune reaction from a damaging one to a tolerant one.''

The researchers believe similar outcomes will occur in humans and hope to begin second-stage trials within a year.

The trials were conducted on patients in Melbourne.

''It has the potential to switch off the immune reaction to gluten and allow people to return to a normal diet,'' Dr Anderson said.

He said the vaccine might also be used to diagnose the disorder, which now requires a costly and intrusive biopsy.

When given to coeliac patients in big doses it caused the same response as eating gluten, said Dr Anderson, who is also the chief scientific officer for the US biotechnology company, ImmusanT, which is developing the vaccine.

The Coeliac Society says 75 per cent of patients with the disorder - more than 150,000 Australians - are undiagnosed. The only treatment is to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

Dr Anderson said the vaccine would be suitable for treating about 90 per cent of patients with the DQ2 genetic form of disease.

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No thank you, they're testing it here in the states too. I don't trust vaccines, they have a poor track record and are usually rushed to market without knowing what the true long term side effects are.

Besides, how do you cure a genetic caused disease? Personally I'll blame the Genetically engineered wheat as part of this cause, but, (inserting sarcasm here) GASP! Heaven forbid we should ever think of our food (the cash cow, wheat) as toxic!

Pardon me, I am a bit cynical about this, and think it's a waste of time. So much easier to cut out the foods making us ill. Who knows what the vaccine may do to us in any form, even genetically?


What about the polio vaccine?


Diferent strokes for diferent folks Roscoe. I think this is very interesting and Dr Anderson obviously has a good grasp of the mechanism causing CD/DH.

When I first read this I thought what would I eat first if I could anything and I realised that I would feel really intrepid about eating anything with gluten in it regardless of a vaccine, so I can also relate to Mushymom's cynism.

The other thing that interests me about a vaccine is many coeliac seem to grow out of being a coeliac during adolescence, I know that I did because I used to get sick everyday as a child (I was sent to a psychiatrist aged 6) And it returned with a vengeance when I was in my mid 20's but it took until I was in my early 40's to finally diagnose CD. So the damage that gluten has done to my system is irreversible.

So I think a good vaccine that works with no side effects coupled with screening for CD/DH at birth could mean a much more normal life style for coeliac. So thanks for sharing this.


Ps I'd have a Cornish pasty followed by apple pie.


Hi Jerry

Why I react to the vaccine bit is that I admit to be totally biased toward vaccinations. At the tender age of 18 months I developed polio which has affected me all my life.

As you would be aware it is another of the auto immune responses, so being also coeliac means I got a double whammy.

So you can see why vaccines are one of my pet subjects. I am not good at parties if it comes up in conversation I can assure you.

My thing I would enjoy most would be a good old fashioned hamburger with a crispy roll or even just a plain old ham and chesse roll. Aghhh


If I understand it this vaccine would counter the bodies auto immune response to gluten. What will it do for gluten intolerance and the damage gluten does to the brain? Let's not forget that CD is multi system, it's not just making mischief in the gut.

One good vaccine doesn't necessarily make another!


Yeah I think it must damage the brain.


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