Celiac.com 02/27/2009 - A simple, reliable low-cost home screening test for celiac disease recently made its Canadian debut.

According to health officials, about 1% of the population, or one out of every 100 Americans suffers from celiac disease. Currently, that total number of Americans with celiac disease stands somewhere near 3 million. Sadly, upwards of 97% of those affected remain undiagnosed.

For people with celiac disease, eating gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye and barley—causes damage to the lining of the small intestine, preventing the uptake of nutrients.

Delayed diagnosis can put people at risk for certain types of cancer and many other associated conditions, including infertility. Early diagnosis of celiac disease is actually quite easy and carries many advantages.

Still, the average time for a correct diagnosis of celiac disease is 10 years from the first onset of symptoms. That figure is 12 years for Canadians, according to a 2007 survey of the 5000 member Canadian Celiac Association. Checking for celiac disease involves a simple blood test and usually a biopsy to follow up on positive results. Until now, that blood test was available solely through a doctor. Often, believing celiac to be rare, doctors are reluctant to order the blood test without overwhelming evidence. This can be problematical, as most people being diagnosed these days do not have classical symptoms, and are often asymptomatic. Numerous people have been forced to visit multiple doctors before confirming their diagnosis.

Recently, the Finnish firm AniBiotech developed a unique, patient-friendly celiac disease test kit that can be used to provide quick, accurate results at home. Marketed in Canada by 2G Pharma, the Biocard™ Celiac Test Kit works by metering gluten antibody levels from a tiny fingertip blood sample, and is the currently the only point-of-care celiac disease test kit approved by Health Canada.

The test tells users with a high degree of accuracy that they are either negative, developing celiac disease, or already have celiac disease. In the last two cases, the specially formulated Canadian kit encourages people to consult a physician for confirmation, which usually involves a biopsy of the small bowel.

The Biocard™ Celiac Test Kit is currently available in Canada at London Drugs, Rexall Pharma Plus, and other major Canadian retail chains. More information can be found at www.celiachometest.com.

The test kit is currently awaiting approval for U.S. distribution.

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