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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    New Test Could Simplify Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

    Celiac.com 03/10/2014 - A new blood test under development by researchers at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute can rapidly and accurately diagnose celiac disease without the prolonged gluten exposure needed for current tests.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons.The new blood test is supposedly accurate after only three days of gluten consumption, not the several weeks or months traditionally required to make a diagnosis using intestinal biopsies.


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    Researchers from the Melbourne institute, with colleagues from biotechnology company ImmusanT in Boston, US, led a study of the blood test in 48 participants, the results of which were published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Immunology.

    Furthermore, says Dr Jason Tye-Din, gastroenterologist and head of celiac research at Hall, preliminary results show that the new diagnostic test can accurately detect celiac disease within 24 hours.

    Dr Tye-Din said that the blood test built on fundamental research discoveries the team had made about coeliac disease.

    "This 'cytokine release' test measures the T cell response to gluten after three days of consumption, and a positive response is highly predictive of coeliac disease," he said. "With this test, we were able to detect a T cell response in the majority of study participants known to have coeliac disease and importantly, the test was negative in all of the patients who did not have coeliac disease, even though they followed a gluten-free diet and thought gluten was the cause of their symptoms."

    The researchers hope larger studies will confirm its role as a widely used tool for diagnosing coeliac disease.

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    I have concerns about this study and the accuracy of this new test. My understanding is that there is currently no way to test someone who is already gluten-free. Therefore, how did the researchers confirm that their test accurately picked up those who were on a gluten-free diet but did not have celiac disease?

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    I'm happy that more reliable tests are being developed, but I don't want to have to hurt myself to prove to doctors that I have a disease I know I have. It's a step in the right direction, though, so I'm hopeful that progress in identifying patients with celiac disease will get easier and that more doctors will begin to understand this condition.

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    This article does not show how participants were determined to have or not have celiac disease. There is no information about the cost and availability of the test (in the future I assume).

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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 biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. 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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