Celiac Patients Who Accidentally Ingest Gluten May Get Relief from New Medication


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For approximately 1 percent of the population — roughly 3 million Americans — exposure to even trace amounts of gluten can trigger digestive damage and a host of side effects, from diarrhea to vomiting. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes gastrointestinal issues when the body is exposed to gluten. Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. A wide range of common food products contain gluten, from soy sauce to beer. Add the ever-present risk of cross-contamination, and it can be difficult for people with celiac disease to avoid gluten entirely. While a full “cure” for celiac disease doesn’t appear to be in the cards yet, researchers have found that an antibody can protect people with celiac when they inadvertently ingest small amounts of gluten. The head of a celiac advocacy organization interviewed by Healthline says it’s a promising step on a road that will hopefully lead to a cure someday. Antibody targets celiac mediator The research, conducted by pharmaceutical company Amgen, revolves around the AMG 714 antibody. AMG 714 targets interleukin-15, a mediator of celiac disease that’s overexpressed in people who have the condition. When people with celiac disease are exposed to gluten, interleukin-15 causes an adverse effect. “An average of half of all celiac disease patients on a gluten-free diet continue to have mucosal inflammation or damage, and a third have recurrent symptoms,” Francisco Leon, PhD, BS, the study director and consultant for Amgen, told Healthline in an email. “That is why we have been investigating medications to help prevent the consequences of hidden gluten.” Leon and his team presented the findings at Digestive Disease Week 2018 in Washington, D.C. While the antibody showed success in lessening adverse side effects from exposure to trace amounts of gluten, it’s not a “cure” that would allow celiac patients to move away from a gluten-free diet. “AMG 714 is being studied as an adjunct to a gluten-free diet to prevent the consequences of contaminating gluten,” wrote Leon. “It’s important to note that this drug is being investigated for its potential to protect against modest contamination, not deliberately eating large amounts of gluten, like bread or pasta.” Alice Bast, CEO of Beyond Celiac, an advocacy organization, says the development and testing of AMG 714 is an encouraging step for people with celiac disease. “AMG 714, like most other treatments being studied, would not mean celiac disease patients can go off the gluten-free diet, but they would be able to go out to a restaurant and eat from the gluten-free menu without having to worry, for example, about whether the grill was scrubbed absolutely clean before their dinner was made,” Bast wrote in an email to Healthline. “Beyond Celiac has been following the progress of AMG 714 for a long time, and I am encouraged to see that results show some improvement in intestinal reactions and fewer symptoms reported by study participants,” she
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