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A Sweet Pill For Celiacs to Swallow? Progress on Enzyme Therapy for Celiac Disease

Celiac.com 02/07/2008 - Are we close to finding a way for people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease to safely break down and properly digest wheat gluten and protein? An article recently published in the medical journal Gut describes the results of laboratory experiments in which doctors duplicated a human digestive tract and isolated an enzyme that degrades wheat gluten and protein. Moreover, the results show that the enzyme also eliminated the toxic response to the wheat gluten and protein common in folks with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

According to the researchers, if a full-scale trial confirms the results, people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease might be able to safely stray from their strict gluten-free diets on occasion.

The enzyme is prolyl endoprotease isolated from Aspergillus niger and shows the power to quickly and effectively break down gluten peptides and proteins in a simulated human digestive tract. The enzyme has a similar pH level to that of the stomach, and remains intact in the stomach’s strongly acidic conditions.

The research team, led by Dr. C. Mitea from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands tested the enzyme in a controlled system built to function in way that is nearly identical with the human gastrointestinal tract.

According to the report, the enzyme increased the digestion speed of the glutenins and gliadins that are found in white bread, and which people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease cannot properly break down. After 90 minutes, the gluten proteins treated with the enzyme were undetectable, whereas those glutens not treated with the enzyme, remained in the stomach for at least two hours.

The research team obtained similar results when they repeated the test on a fast food meal rather than just white bread alone, and showed that the enzyme treated food samples also eliminated adverse T-cell stimulatory activity that occurred in untreated samples. The tests showed that, in the same amount of time that food normally remains in the stomach, the enzyme brought about the total elimination of T-cell stimulatory peptides of gliadins and glutenins.

From the test results, the research team concluded that the enzyme is a solid choice for clinical trials to determine if it can eliminate 100% of gluten toxicity. They also noted that the enzyme is readily available in industrial quantities, and thus easy to tailor into a suitable treatment should trials prove fruitful.

Gut, Jan 2008; 57: 25 - 32.

Editor's Note: This is not a therapy that is designed to allow celiacs to eat gluten on a daily basis. At best it will allow them to not worry about cross-contamination when eating out.

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59 Responses:

 
an unknown user
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said this on
09 Feb 2008 9:00:48 PM PST
Wonderful news! Thank you.

 
Ema
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said this on
09 Feb 2008 11:00:24 PM PST
The trial tests have already been done on Celiac's in the US. Just waiting for the final product and go ahead by the FDA for it to go on the market. Will be by prescription only when it does hit the shelves.

 
gail zamberlin
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
10 Feb 2008 7:42:57 PM PST
This is wonderful news to hear as both my son and I are celiac , please let us know when the FDA has approved such an enzyme. Thank you again. Gail Zamberlin.

 
valerie
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 6:11:18 AM PST
Great news! I'll be first in line. Thank you.

 
Paul
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 10:45:10 AM PST
Great news! I'm newly diagnosed, but am anxious to learn all I can about possible treatment. Keep up the good work.

 
Brenda
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 1:24:59 PM PST
Great article. Please keep informative articles like this coming, they are much appreciated.

 
sonja
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 5:25:23 PM PST
This is great news. I have been a Celiac for 6 years so I am looking forward to it's availability.
Thank you for this info.

 
DIANE LEDES
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 6:01:48 PM PST
VERY PROMISING, PLEASE FINALIZE AND EXPEDITE PRODUCTION AND DELIVERY. I HOPE IT IS RX. SO THAT EVERY TOM, DICK AND HARRY CAN'T GET IT, ONLY THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE CELIAC SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET IT AND MAYBE THOSE THAT HAVE DRUG PLANS CAN GET SOME ASSISTANCE, WE GET NONE ON THE SPECIAL FOOD WE HAVE TO EAT. HURRY UP OUT THERE, THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE ANXIOUSLY WAITING.

 
Amir
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 7:30:28 PM PST
That is wonderful news--I have never heard it before. I hope the enzyme pill prescription will be available as soon as possible.

 
Angela Fisher
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 7:34:08 PM PST
Great article. I can't wait until it is
available to us.

 
Wife of a Celiac
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said this on
11 Feb 2008 8:42:07 PM PST
Great news in your article! My husband has Celiac and it is a blessing just knowing that there is possibly a treatment in the very near future! Please keep us updated. Thank you!

 
Patti
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 2:04:47 AM PST
As my daughter and I both have Celiac Disease, we are anxiously awaiting the pill. Please let me know if you need a tester in New England.

 
Daksha
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 4:14:17 AM PST
GOD is definately listening to our prayers.......
Well done and a BIG THANKS to the researchers and CELIAC.COM

 
Gillian Bramwell
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2008 6:06:55 AM PST
I have a reaction to gluten within 5 minutes of ingesting it. Something that takes 90 minutes to work would not be much help.

Perhaps this would be more useful for individuals who have genetic potential for celiac but haven't yet developed an active case.

 
sandra bookbinder
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 6:13:41 AM PST
I want to know more about this pill and when it will be on the market. I want to test it.

 
Barbara
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 6:40:10 AM PST
Encouraging

 
Barry Pressman
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 7:32:41 AM PST
It may or may not work, but is there any info regarding projected cost of the pills and whether or not they would be covered by insurance?

 
Sherry-Ann Herman-Kalpoo
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 7:42:56 AM PST
Very informative. My baby was diagnosed with celiac disease at 8 months and I am just trying to get all the possible ways to help her deal with it as she gets older. Keep up the good work and every little detail will be greatly appreciated.

 
Susan Bigras
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 8:44:30 AM PST
Great news indeed! In regards to Comment #8 - don't understand why 'only' those with celiac should have access. Why would anyone else want it? Also, GF food is a write off on taxes. It is medically necessary - keep each and every receipt!! We celiacs pay a fortune for our foods! Someone needs to do something about THAT!!!

 
Linda Gordon
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 10:03:44 AM PST
Oh, how I would love to be able to eat out again!

 
Helen Haas
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 10:36:34 AM PST
Wonderful news I have had Celiac for only 3 years and I am able to eat rolled oats once a week things have been good for me as I did keep a very stick diet...good work

 
Zack Arthur
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 10:36:35 AM PST
Wow that is awesome...Can't wait to try it out!

 
Betty Styger
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 10:40:32 AM PST
This would make life much easier, as most products seem to have wheat in them. Would be willing to test it. thank you.

 
an unknown user
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2008 11:29:44 AM PST
What does 'toxic response' mean? What about the *autoimmune* response? This seems like a drastic oversimplification of the disease. If I didn't know better, I'd read this and think celiac disease was essentially the same as lactose intolerance. For me, this article glosses over a lot of important technicalities and ignores some glaring potential problems.

 
Rosemarie Nocera
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 11:47:28 AM PST
Thanks for this informative article. In reading the responses I feel most of my fellow celiacs are miss understanding what you have said. This is NOT a therapy, but something to take when eating out to help with cross contamination. It is a first step though. I live for the day I can order a Sicilian pizza with everything or eat bread when I go out to dinner.

 
lala
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 12:53:47 PM PST
RESPONSE to #14 & #8
Last week I read about a product called Gluten Digest made by NOW -which makes high quality supplements.
I am VERY interested in trying it out!
Comment #14 - The idea is that if we take an enzyme like this daily we should have good results when we are contaminated or when we eat it on purpose(!).
Comment #8 - This should absolutely be available over the counter because being gluten free costs enough already-the world seems so intolerable for a gluten free person that I would be annoyed if we were alienated further by needing a prescription. Also then we are labeled as having an auto-immune disorder which is such a crappy western way of looking at the body. Think positively & rid your body of dis-ease.
I like to say that my body is 'sensitive' and that I manage that by not eating certain foods -I don't feel the need to label it with some terrible name unless it benefits me in a restaurant etc.
Do you WANT to have a disorder or do you want to LIVE healthily?(unlike all the wheat eaters in the world!) Sometimes I think we are lucky for being intolerant of such a poison!

 
Roberta
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 1:46:54 PM PST
That's GREAT news! I just hope that the drug company that eventually produces the pill doesn't capitalize on our enthusiasm by charging exorbitant prices for it!

 
Kathryn
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 1:47:38 PM PST
Wonderful news! Can't wait for it to be available. I also hope they make it by Rx only. Keep us posted!

 
Dee
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2008 1:57:45 PM PST
I quote - 'shows the power to quickly and effectively break down gluten peptides and proteins in a simulated human digestive tract'

This sounds very promising indeed - however it is a simulated human digestive tract - I wonder when they will try it on the real deal? Keep us posted with all the breaking news!

 
Noelle Doby
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 1:59:01 PM PST
This is great news. Maybe now with a family of 5, 3 of which have celiac, we can have a lower grocery bill. Yeah!!!!!!

 
Diane
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2008 2:28:22 PM PST
My concern is the Aspergillus Niger. I am allergic to it when it is air borne. Could this be a possible allergen and cause other problems?

 
an unknown user
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2008 3:16:59 PM PST
I use a product available at health food stores called Gluten Ease, which allows me to eat out occasionally without worrying about cross contamination. It is NOT a treatment, but an enzyme that helps break down gluten, preventing or at the very least moderating my symptoms. It's about $30 for a 60 tab bottle, made by Enzymedica. I'd love to have other choices!!!

 
joan
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 3:24:44 PM PST
I'd love to know when this is available. Family potlucks are always a challenge.

 
an unknown user
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2008 5:23:38 PM PST
Wow I am so excited to hear this news. My daughter has celiac disease and that is some of the best news I have heard!!!!!! Lets us know when it is out there.

 
Sue
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 6:46:48 PM PST
I am doing enzyme therapy and aspergillus niger is what I am using. I've not been definitively diagnosed as celiac (a biopsy 14 years ago was negative) but problems have pointed towards at least gluten intolerance. I was motivated to start enzyme therapy when I was tested for IgA allergies/sensitivities by Enterolab with positive results for gluten, soy, dairy and eggs. I'm not eating anything with those foods for at least a year and hope, with the enzyme therapy, to be able to at least eventually rotate the dairy and eggs. I'm a type 1 diabetic (38 years) and was diagnosed with atrophic gastritis & malabsorption of fat soluble vitamins 3 years ago -- this is what led me to reconsider the celiac issue. I've read a lot about enzyme therapy (google on enzymes+Edward Howell; enzymes+Howard Loomis; or the book Enzyme Cure). It is very grounded and not a new concept. I didn't start the enzyme therapy thinking gluten might be feasible again but it would be great to have additional research that shows the enzymes help process the gluten. Looking forward to hearing more!

 
harlev miryam
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said this on
12 Feb 2008 11:26:23 PM PST
Wonderful news! Can you put me in a list of trial when it will be available.

 
Dr. Stephen Wangen
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said this on
13 Feb 2008 12:26:03 PM PST
I am a doctor specializing in gluten intolerance, IBS, and food allergies. Enzymes that digest gluten already exist and are on the market. The research mentioned here is only confirming their effectiveness. Previous research by Dr. Mitea (PMID: 16690904) and others has also been published on enzymes. We offer patients at our clinic, the IBS Treatment Center, an enzyme product called GlutEnzyme which has been effective for minimizing the damage from accidental ingestion of gluten for many of our patients. Your doctor should be able to get it for you. However, it is essential to remember that it is not a cure for celiac disease or gluten intolerance and should only be used to minimize the damage from the accidental ingestion of gluten.

 
PAT PHILLIPS
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said this on
13 Feb 2008 1:56:15 PM PST
I HAVE HAD CELIAC FOR TWO YEARS NOW WOULD LOVE TO TRY A PILL TO HELP WITH THIS DIET, IT WOULD BE A BLESSING.

 
Dana Oliver
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said this on
13 Feb 2008 3:51:31 PM PST
This was very well written and explained all we need to know. Thanks for the update!

 
Anonymous
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said this on
14 Feb 2008 7:59:04 AM PST
We would LOVE to get some of the Celiac Rapid Home Test. This is something any celiac would want to keep on hand!

Feeling unwell and being able to confirm that something eaten seems to have had gluten would be very helpful - For example, managing concerns as to what might be wrong (some have related conditions due to late diagnosis, are in a pregnancy, etc). They are on the market in the UK.

 
john decker
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said this on
15 Feb 2008 8:49:18 AM PST
thank you

 
Regina Fink
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said this on
15 Feb 2008 5:56:24 PM PST
My sister, father and I all have gluten intolerance. I have been taking the Gluten Ease when I go out to eat. It seems to help when I only eat out infrequently. If I eat gluten every day and take the Gluten Ease, after a few days, the gluten intolerance symptoms come back.

 
Marius Gavrilescu
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said this on
23 Feb 2008 11:47:56 AM PST
It's fantastic news, it's divine!

 
Patricia Spradlin
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said this on
24 Feb 2008 2:32:52 PM PST
Great article, awesome news about the pill. I really hope for all of us with Celiac Disease it happens soon.

 
marco
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said this on
25 Feb 2008 6:36:30 AM PST
It should be available as well without prescription so to lower the cost! What about availability in Canada?

 
G
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said this on
10 Mar 2008 7:29:12 PM PST
Sounds too good to be true. We'll see after several people have tested it on themselves if this is possibly what our intestine digestive system is missing. My digestion disorder (celiac disease) is at its worst form, its genetic from my mother and grandfather who presented similar symptoms for years. If this enzyme is functional in aiding in cross contamination then how much will I need to buy every month? The cost might be more than just staying clear and on organic raw vegis/fruits/fish. I'm so use to the diet now.

 
Amy K
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said this on
28 Mar 2008 2:02:21 PM PST
My Father-in-law is actually participating in trials right now. I don't know which enzyme they are testing, but the regimen is to take the first pill 15 minutes before eating, and the second in the middle of the meal. It sounds like a pill, like Lactaid, to allow people with a reaction to gluten to eat gluten containing products. Sorry I didn't grill him for more details!

 
Doug Bianchi
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said this on
11 Apr 2008 1:41:31 PM PST
If only they knew what a taste of real pizza would be like. Even if only once in a while.
Thanks

 
Dewey
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said this on
19 Jul 2008 4:34:47 PM PST
As stated, there are enzymes already on the market for this. I have been using them successfully for years to prevent reactions from accidental ingestion. This and many other so called 'medical research' is merely an attempt by people to get rich off of uninformed Celiacs. When I first started taking my enzymes, I wanted to pass the word on, so I posted messages on forums, newsgroups, etc. However, since I was not a 'medical professional' I was blasted as being irresponsible. So now, I just live happy and let everyone else wait for a doctor to tell them to do the same thing I've been doing for years!

 
Hope
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said this on
22 Nov 2008 6:58:11 PM PST
I am so grateful from the bottom of my heart to those researchers who are trying their very best to cure this disease. God really does answer prayers, and please keep us updated!

 
John
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said this on
13 Nov 2009 8:00:00 PM PST
I am going to chase my pills with a bottle of IPA!

 
Steve
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said this on
16 Jul 2010 1:17:37 AM PST
FYI. The clinical trial is supposed to be completed according to clinicaltrials.gov (search for NCT00810654). Hopefully the results will be good. The study was updated on 7/14/2010

 
Alex
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
06 Dec 2010 4:51:43 PM PST
I've just been looking at NCT00810654 on clinicaltrials.gov.. Why are no results yet? Surely it doesn't take a 2-3 years for results. Any ideas anyone?

 
Alex
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
06 Dec 2010 5:03:54 PM PST
Where are the results for NCT00810654?? any ideas?

 
liz
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said this on
24 Dec 2010 7:35:28 PM PST
may i ask when this will come out because I have celiac disease and its not fun and I'm ready for this pill.

 
Clayton Secord
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said this on
30 Jan 2011 10:49:56 AM PST
Good article but it does not inform us that a celiac can take a chance to eat a gluten contaminated meal, however I am very grateful for your efforts in focusing your attention to this important matter.

 
Hayley Stoff
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said this on
31 May 2011 2:30:37 PM PST
When will this come out? No news since an I really hope it will become available.

 
C Wang
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said this on
23 Jun 2011 10:00:29 AM PST
This is great news as I have been recently diagnosed as well. I would love to know the results and see if this pill would be safe to use proven overtime without any side effects.

 
BMW
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said this on
29 Jul 2014 6:52:25 PM PST
I am very hopeful that this pill will hit the prescription level of the market place. I agree that it needs to be by script so those that "think" they have it cannot abuse it. An assist on med costs would defray some costs. I do believe it to be more of an "after the incident pill" Such as the morning after pill does for birth control. One would still have to monitor their diet, etc--however this emergency pill would save many from havoc! My Dad had severe celiac. I myself react to the gluten by getting terrible migraines. One endocrinologist I saw said the symptoms are not just diarrhea, tummy problems, etc--but are vast and variable. It still goes back to monitoring your life, diet, etc.
Hope this pill will alleviate some troubles for some, but still see it as an emergency type pill for ingesting foods you know you should not have! We still need to monitor our lives and behave!




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