One of the first things any gluten-intolerant learns along with their diagnosis is that the disease is “curable” in that by avoiding gluten completely your symptoms will subside and you can lead a normal lifestyle. Or as normal you can by avoiding everything from bread to soy sauce to evasively labeled products with “natural flavoring.” When I think about it, this is kind of a lame cure, in my opinion. It’s like a passive aggressive treatment for a disease that will still impact your everyday way of life. People suffering from lactose intolerance can take a pill, so why can’t we?
Well, scientists have been grappling with that question, working to develop an orally administered compound that could help alleviate the pangs of celiac’s disease. At the 2012 Digestive Diseases Week Conference in California, doctors and scientists gather to discuss the latest research studies, questions, and developments in the specific realm of disorders that plague the human digestive system. One study discussed was a fairly young trial in the attempt to reduce the small intestinal damage suffered by the gluten intolerant. The study used a relatively small sample of 41 adult celiac’s, administering either a placebo or the drug ALV003 developed by Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for 6 weeks, as well as a controlled amount (2 grams) of gluten.
While the results were not completely revolutionary, they do provide an assured step in the direction towards the development of a “gluten-pill” for celiac’s sufferers. Participants who received the drug had significantly less small intestinal mucosal damage over the course of the 6 weeks and reported less abdominal pain than those who received the placebo.
Unfortunately, it’s not time to reach for that piece of chocolate cake. At least for now, the pill is not working to get us all back on the gluten. The development of the drug is intended to help protect people with celiac’s disease from accidental ingestion due to cross contamination or sneaking gluten. And although it is probably fairly far from being commercially available, it is the first of its kind to pass the preliminary research testing and is getting a lot of attention from the medical community at large, meaning those extreme reactions to gluten may soon be an ailment of the past!
If you’re interested in more information on the trial check out http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01560169 or http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120523/Data-from-Alvinee28099s-ALV003-Phase-2A-trial-on-celiac-disease-presented-at-DDW-2012.aspx