New Blood Test May Make Celiac Disease Easier to Diagnose

Blood test. Endoscopy. Biopsy. Process of elimination. Consultation of astrological charts and the reading of omens. Diagnosing celiac disease hasn’t exactly been easy.

For me, the blood test was enough. My doctor pointed to some funny numbers on a paper and told me to stop eating gluten. I felt better, and I count my lucky stars for it. Medical tests and I never got along so good, and just saying the word “endoscopy” makes me shiver.

Happily for squeamies like me – for everyone really – the blood tests detecting gliadin antibodies continue getting better. I’m happy to report that Phadia, a US company that makes a variety of different blood tests, just got FDA clearance for an even more specific test for celiac disease.

Medscape ran a good overview of the new blood test for celiac disease. Now that the tests have been FDA-approved, doctors have one more tool to help us out with.No biopsy here!

To step back for a minute, here’s a very macro understanding of the science behind the matter:

  • Gliadin is a substance found within gluten.
  • People with celiac disease produce antibodies to fight off gliadin.
  • These antibodies make people sick.
  • No gluten, no antibodies. No antibodies, no symptoms.

If you’re already on a gluten-free diet, a blood test should turn up negative; you aren’t giving your body a reason to produce antibodies.

If you aren’t on a gluten-free diet, but have gotten inconclusive test results in the past, this development could be quite exciting. The new test uses deamidated peptides as a newer, more enticing “bait” for the antibodies. Exactly what a deamidated peptide is, I don’t really know. What I do know:

  • Fewer people will be diagnosed wrongly.
  • Fewer people will need to go on to more invasive methods of diagnosis.
  • Fewer endoscopies in the world makes the world a happier place.

For those of you who are celiac – how were you diagnosed?