Currently, the only cure for Celiac Disease is a lifelong gluten free diet. That may change someday if Dr. Alessio Fasano has his way. Fasano, head of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, recently promised that researchers are “darn close” to finding a cure. According to Dr. Fasano, researchers are focused on a feature of autoimmune diseases called leaky gut, a situation in which molecules that cause the disease can break through the barrier of the gastrointestinal tract. “Fixing the barrier dysfunction is what we are focused on,” said Dr. Fasano.

According to Alba Therapeutics Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company in Baltimore, Maryland, Celiac Disease is “one of the few autoimmune diseases in which all the elements of autoimmunity are understood.” In other words, researchers already know what causes the disease, how the disease works, and the specific genes associated with the disease. Alba Therapeutics is also focusing on a product that will control the gastrointestinal barrier leak, or “tight junction dysfunction.”

Despite our optimism and excitement about one day having a cure, it’s worth noting that that “darn close” may be a relative statement. Once a potentially effective cure is identified, it will need to successfully pass through years of clinical trials and receive FDA approval before it’s made available to the public. For now, while we await the outcome of these promising developments, it is still necessary for all of us with Celiac Disease to continue following a strict, gluten free diet.