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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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    Yes, yes, yes!! This is wonderful. I feel a sense of relief already at being able to tell if my food is safe to eat, especially when I am away from home. I hope we will be able to have the sensor VERY soon!!!

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    I'd buy one of these! I don't eat out that often, but this would be really handy to have. I'd also bring it to my in-laws, as I swear they are trying to kill me with holiday dinners. But I could see a lot of use for this - people who travel a lot, for instance, would really benefit from this device. Great idea.

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    Great idea, I would love to have one if not too expensive. The swab idea above also sounds good, maybe something like a treated 'Qtip' that one could buy by the 50s or more.

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    Yes, if it is reasonably priced -- my gluten-free budget is a huge part of our overall budget. This device would be so terrific to have in a restaurant setting, especially, say, a Chinese place where they vigorously nod their heads when asked if items are gluten-free. Hey, they use soy in lots of ways.

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    I see this as a most welcome and useful tool! Yes, I would buy it without hesitation. There is way too much guesswork in the gluten-sensitive world, and this would offer some peace of mind and much needed added safety with all the products that leave you in doubt. I'm wondering if this would work on non-food products like toothpaste or lipstick. Whatever it works on, I'm for it!

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    All the foods that tout Gluten Free on the packaging and then the fine print says "produced in a facility that uses wheat...". I almost exclusively eat Certified Gluten-Free foods now. I would love to have a tester for these products and cross-contamination issues within my own kitchen. I would even sell these in my massage clinic. My clients are constantly asking about celiac disease.

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    This tool would go a long way to ease my anxiety when I choose to eat something that appears to be gluten-free - such that manufacturer labeling is not always accurate and well-meaning friends and relatives may miss a step in avoiding cross contamination.

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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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