How many times have you explained your gluten intolerance to someone, only to have them shake their head sorrowfully and ask, “So there’s no pill you can take?”

And of course you have to say that no, it’s not quite like lactose intolerance, you aren’t like those “lucky” folks who can pop a pill and grab a pizza.

If all goes well with ImmusanT, soon we’ll all be able to say that we have something better. The Cambridge-based company is, “focused on restoring tolerance to gluten in celiac disease,” according to their press release.

But what does that mean?

ImmusanT is working on a vaccine called Nexvax2®, which in theory would expose people with celiac disease to small amounts of the three peptides (sub-parts of gluten) that elicit a negative response. If the vaccine works, then over time the T-cells that react so negatively to gluten would in effect “get used” to it and stop seeing it as an enemy.

This in turn would allow celiacs to resume eating gluten. Quite frankly I can’t even imagine what that would be like – to suddenly have someone say, “OK, go ahead, order whatever you want.” Leaves me speechless. The vaccine is entering Phase 2a trials, so the big day is still a ways away.

There are two extra-nice things about this nice piece of news. First of all, if the company can sort out a vaccine for celiac disease they’ll be able to apply that knowledge to other autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes.

Second, the company is founded and run by a woman. It’s struck me before that the celiac community is home to a number of vocal female leaders – we could speculate as to why this is, but that’s a post for another day – point is, kudos to women taking charge and doing big things in the sciences.

You can read more about ImmusanT and the science behind their vaccine in this press release.

If you were able to have gluten again, what’s the first thing you’d eat? Or would you stick with the gluten-free diet?