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Three substances found to trigger gut disease

22nd July 2010

A team of researchers from the UK working with Australian scientists have discovered the precise cause of the immune reaction that leads to coeliac disease.


They believe the discovery of the three key substances in the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley trigger the digestive condition now offers a potential new target for developing treatments and even a vaccine.

Around 1% of people in the UK are affected by coeliac disease, which is caused by an intolerance to gluten found in foods like bread, pasta and biscuits.

The latest research has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine and followed 200 patients with coeliac disease attending clinics in Oxford and Melbourne.

The tests identified 90 peptides that caused some level of immune reaction, but three were found to be particularly toxic.

Professor Bob Anderson, head of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, said: "These three components account for the majority of the immune response to gluten that is observed in people with coeliac disease."

Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of the charity Coeliac UK, said the new finding could potentially help lead to a vaccine against coeliac disease but far more research was needed.

"It's an important piece of the jigsaw but a lot of further work remains so nobody should be expecting a practical solution in their surgery within the next 10 years", she added.

While a gluten-free diet can help patients managed coeliac disease, nearly half still have damage to their intestines five years after starting a gluten-free diet.


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Article Information

Title: Three substances found to trigger gut disease
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 15581
Date Added: 22nd Jul 2010


BBC News

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