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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac Disease Future: A Device that Detects Gluten in Food?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 10/18/2012 - Currently, there is no convenient way for people with celiac disease to test food for gluten content. In an effort to change that, University researchers in Spain are using Sunrise™ absorbance readers by Tecan, together with Magellan™ V4.0 software to create an accurate, easy to use sensor that can test for gluten in food.

    Photo: CC--chrisinplymouthMaria Isabel Pividori from the Sensors and Biosensors Group at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona confirmed the development of the "electrochemical magneto immunosensor for the sensitive detection of gliadin – and small gliadin fragments – in natural or pretreated foods.” Gliadin is the main protein trigger for celiac disease.

    The sensor is an important step toward addressing "increasing demand for rapid, simple and low cost techniques for accurate food analysis in decentralized analytical situations," said Pividori.

    The research team measured the performance of the electrochemical immuno-sensor by comparing it with a new magneto-ELISA, using optical detection performed on the Sunrise plate reader.

    The team conducted ELISAs in 96-well microplates, using a magnetic separation plate to isolate the supernatant before measuring the absorbance in the Sunrise reader.

    This enabled the team to conduct immunoassays in a number of various formats for multiple applications – such as evaluating protein coupling to magnetic beads and nanoparticles – as well as allowing assessment of different transducer materials for bio-sensing purposes.

    Because it offers "a quick and easy way to optimize reagents and assay parameters," Pividori calls the Sunrise "ideal for research applications."

    So just how far off is a commercially viable device that will allow people with celiac disease to test gluten levels in their food? Only time will tell, but stay tuned for more developments as researchers try to deliver such a device.

    Meantime, let us know what you think. Would you like a device that could easily and accurately test food for gluten? Would such a device make your gluten-free life better or easier? Comment below to let us know your thoughts.

    Full details of this study can be found in: Laube T et al. Biosens Bioelectron, 2011, 27, 46-52.


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    I would love to have one to prove to my husband how important cross contamination is. He is the cook of the house and insists that he cooked a gluten-free meal. But unless I prepare my on meals I usually get sick. It hurts his feelings when I don't want to eat his meals.

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    I have been saying for a while that I would pay good money for something like this - it would be worth it just to be sure of what I'm eating and to be able to try things that I regularly wouldn't take the risk with. The only problem I have is if a crumb from cross-contamination is enough to upset my body, then I would need to be able to test the entire amount of food, not just stick it in one place and assume that there's no gluten throughout.

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    I would like to know how sensitive this test is. If it can test below 20 ppm to very low levels of gluten I would be happy. My son gets sick from products that contain 5 ppm gluten...

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    I would LOVE to have a sensor and have spoken to other coeliacs who all agree. I hope it will be available VERY soon. I can feel a sense of relief already that I will be able to eat safely, especially when I am away from my home.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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