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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    First Ever Celiac Disease Vaccine Trials Underway in Australia

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 04/06/2009 - Celiac sufferers around the globe are anxiously awaiting word from Australia, as the world's first vaccine trials for the treatment of celiac disease get underway in Melbourne. In April, Bob Anderson, of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical research, will begin the initial phase of the first-ever trials for a celiac vaccine that, if successful, might just mean the end of gluten-free diets for those with celiac disease.

    The treatment has been successful in mice and is now ready to be tested on humans. In this initial phase, 40 volunteers with celiac disease will receive doses of the vaccine over an 11-month period to determine that it will cause no harm. Once researchers make sure the vaccine is safe, they will begin phase II trial, wherein they give vaccine doses to trial subjects and evaluate their responses to gluten challenges to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. Evaluation will include an examination of immune response and intestinal condition to determine the level of gluten tolerance.

    The vaccine therapy involves repeatedly injecting solutions of gluten at increasing concentrations. The goal is to reduce and ultimately eliminate gluten sensitivity slowly, in a manner similar to common allergy desensitization treatments. The road to the development of this treatment has not been easy. Dr. Anderson is that rare combination of medical doctor (gastroenterologist) and PhD scientist who is able to develop practical treatments from bedside observations. After struggling to gain funding throughout his research career, he eventually patented his vaccine and co-founded Nexpep in an effort to develop the vaccine on his own. Because, like common dust and hay fever allergy therapies, this treatment approach may allow people with celiac disease to actually consume the gluten that produces the toxic reaction and reduce or even eliminate that reaction via vaccination. This approach will also serve as a model for a vaccine approach for other immune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

    Until recently, doctors thought celiac disease was rare. But according to statistics, it is twice as common as type1 diabetes or breast cancer. Celiac disease is now known to strike one per cent of Americans, but although modern blood testing has made early detection accurate and efficient, most people with celiac disease still do not know that they have it. Just 3% of sufferers have been diagnosed, leaving nearly 3 million people undiagnosed, and therefore unable to benefit form simple treatment in the form of a gluten-free diet. Long-term risks for untreated celiac disease include malnutrition, infertility, osteoporotic fractures, liver failure and various cancers. Symptoms can vary between individuals, with some experiencing no symptoms at all, even though damage to the bowel and general health still occurs whether or not symptoms are present.

    Presently, long-term monitoring of dietary compliance for celiac patients is haphazard at best, and standards for gluten-free products have yet to take effect in the USA and other countries. Geoff Withers, director of pediatric gastroenterology at Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital, points out that a gluten-free diet is "notoriously difficult. It is expensive and lifelong, and comes at a cost to the individual." Even treatment with a gluten-free disease is no panacea. People on gluten-free diets routinely suffer from a deficiency of certain vitamins, especially B vitamins. Roughly half of those following gluten-free diets have impaired intestinal healing due to compliance issues, and that means they are in danger of associated risks which include cancer.

    A successful vaccine could have massive consequences for treatment of celiac disease, and might radically improve the lives of those with the condition.


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    Please keep me updated on this fantastic and exciting news.... oh to be (dietary) carefree again! I'm already drooling over the possibility of being able to eat a cheeseburger again.

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    Can I have an update on this?! I have celiac and am so upset by it--I'm still fairly new to it. Please, let me know how this vaccine went, I WANT IT!!

    Laura I m fairly new to severe gluten intolerance...it is frustrating my doctor told me the most important thing right now is to heal the leaky gut. I'm working on paleo because this helps in the healing process. Then we will take it from there. Good luck to you and god bless you and may he heal us both.

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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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  • Forum Discussions

    To the OP, once in a while this stuff happens.  Please feel free to start a new topic if that would make it easier.  I am afraid this is just part of forums on the internet. I hope this didn’t chase you off.  
    @anasss Nobody in this thread has called anyone "ignorant," so please don't say that if it did not happen. Also, the use of all capitals is, in forums and other places on the Internet, generally considered yelling and impolite, and there ...
    Bshake, Look up the "baking soda test" ...it is a nice home test to see if your daughter could have low stomach that is triggering the ulcers or creating the perfect conditions for ulcers to develop....mastic gum as has been mentioned...
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