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First Ever Celiac Disease Vaccine Trials Underway in Australia

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.

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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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14 Responses:

 
Alex
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
07 Apr 2009 5:58:57 PM PDT
'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.'

I disagree with that statement. There are two choices you can make if you are gluten-sensitive:

1. Eat the same crap you ate before, but pay twice as much for the gluten-free version, and still have to worry every single meal whether it's really gluten-free.

or

2. Change permanently to the Paleo Diet (eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts/seeds) and never have to worry again because those foods are by nature gluten-free.

Plus, you reap tremendous health benefits from eating this way and cutting out the bad carbs, sugar, dairy, and grains.

It's easy, affordable, safe, and the healthiest nutrition possible.

 
Morgen P
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
05 Nov 2010 10:30:24 AM PDT
But, those diets don't help people that have gained other autoimmune diseases because of celiac. Such as allergies to corn, rice, dairy products, etc.

 
Rebbecca
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said this on
07 Oct 2011 8:52:21 PM PDT
I agree with the paleo diet, although it can be hard at times, but well worth it, i have been on a Paleo diet for three weeks, as I am celiac and was getting pain, and feeling sick from eating to much gluten free grains, such as rice and corn based products. So i feel great now, pain free, not feeling sick anymore and full of energy. Plus it forces me to eat more fruit and vegetables, which we tend not to eat enough off, with our busy lifestyles.
P.S I still sneak in dairy now and again, I love dairy.

 
Yalcin
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
08 Apr 2009 12:19:17 PM PDT
Great news!

''The vaccine therapy involves repeatedly injecting solutions of gluten at increasing concentrations. ''

Is the thought that if one bypasses the gut and injects gluten directly in the blood, the body will accept it rather than attack the gluten?

I thought Dr Anderson was developing 2 types of vaccines, one for DQ2 and the other for DQ8.

I am no doctor, but I would think that an injection with a small dose of gluten is easy to make for a doctor.

Dr Anderson thank you very much
for your efforts. Hopefully you will
succeed.

Greetings,

Yalcin

 
Sue H of Aurora, IL, USA
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said this on
14 Apr 2009 3:41:51 PM PDT
This brought a huge smile on my face - that someone in the medicine/research field actually cares about us to develop a vaccine! When my teenage son was tested for a full array of food allergies at the Allergy Associates of LaCrosse, WI, he was given sublingual allergy immunotherapy or 'allergy drops' to desensitize his food allergies which included gluten (FYI - he did not test positive for celiac despite family history of CD). He continues to eat gluten here and there while taking daily drops and the two of us family members with CD have noticed that his reactions to gluten have progressively become much more tolerable (unlike ours). With people like Dr. Anderson and my son's allergist, Dr. Kroker, will indeed figure out ways to assist our immune system in tolerating gluten. I will be anxious to learn of Dr. Anderson's results.

 
Merovign
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said this on
17 Apr 2009 1:51:43 PM PDT
Do I completely misunderstand Celiac disease? An autoimmune reaction in the intestine, right?

I'd like to know a LOT more about the tests - it seems that this would be attempting to either deaden the symptoms or deaden the immune system. Doesn't a vaccination trigger a MORE efficient immune system response?

I look forward to improved treatment or even a cure as much as anyone, it just seems that a lot of the "cure" talk is about symptoms (and not damage) or short-term effects.

 
tarek ouri
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said this on
21 Apr 2009 6:34:12 AM PDT
Me and all the kids with celiac disease will be happy if it is true and it will happen so that I can eat bread again--I am dreaming of this day.

 
eilam
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said this on
12 Jun 2009 5:15:06 PM PDT
I have celiac so this is great news for me.

 
Daniel Sanelli
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said this on
02 Aug 2010 6:18:25 PM PDT
This is what confuses me. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. The vaccine may calm the affects of the gluten on the immune system, but this isn't the only trigger. It sounds like a good cure for gluten sensitivity, but I'm not sure I understand how this is a cure for Celiac.

 
Morgen P
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said this on
05 Nov 2010 10:27:00 AM PDT
Honestly, being 18 years old and being diagnosed with this disease at the age of 15... Is something, either it treats it completely or just helps with it... ANYTHING is great! I've always loved my breads and such & knowing that in the near future I might actually be able to have a delicious slice of Domino's Pizza or even my best friend's birthday cake... It's simply a blessing!

 
charlie
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said this on
13 Jul 2011 5:24:52 AM PDT
I hope this all works out and that many people will be helped.

 
Laura Ross
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said this on
06 Nov 2011 5:34:27 PM PDT
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!!

 
Judy
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said this on
26 Apr 2012 12:15:22 PM PDT
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.

 
Lauren
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
08 Nov 2011 7:38:28 PM PDT
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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Hi! I've just been recently diagnosed as Celiac through the whole biopsy-shebang, and I have a little bit of insight on the whole diagnosis thing and how I was eventually diagnosed, and my advice for you. Brace yourself, this might be a bit long, but it might be worth the read and I promise I will eventually get to the point. If you don't want the huge story, skip to the long line of capital As: I first saw my doctor when I had a few problems swallowing. I've compared it to when you're nervous and you feel like you have a lump in your throat - but after I eat and (sometimes) drink. I just mentioned briefly it to my family doctor when I was addressing another issue, but right away he referred me to a gastroenterologist and ordered a barium swallow x-ray test. The x-ray came back completely normal, and so the g.e. then suspected GERD, put me on acid blockers to see if they would work, no harm done sort of thing. The only thing I got out of the acid blockers were the side effects, so it was back to square 1. The g.e. said that the next test he could do was an upper endoscopy with biopsies. (hint: the celiac test!) Wanting to find a solution to my problems, the endoscopy was scheduled. Pretty painless, I was in and out in a day, but the results took much much longer. Biopsies, or the little pieces of my esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, were sent to the lab, and they came back clean. I didn't really go back to the g.e. for a whole year after that because life became busy, I wasn't prompted to follow up, and I just dismissed the swallowing problems the best I could and went on my way. Now, I've never been huge on the gluten, big bread-y sandwiches or croissants or pies were never foods that I super "enjoyed". I wouldn't feel bad after eating them, I just didn't like the taste of bread so much, but I loved cookies, cake and a lot of other things that do have gluten in them. I lead a lowish gluten life but I wasn't really monitoring it that way. Everything changed when I got really nasty (systemic) poison ivy. My eyes were swollen shut, and the rash was everywhere. I almost went to the hospital, but cooped out at the family doctor's place and got a script for prednisone (a steroid). But, I found that after I had tapered off the steroids, I had magically become lactose intolerant. So back to the family doctor again probably because I broke my toe or something, but we also got to talk about this magical lactose intolerance business (because I love anything dairy and it was indeed devastating). He was surprised as there is literally no correlation between steroids and becoming lactose intolerant. He asked me if I still had the swallowing problems, which I did, and so it was back to the g.e. for round 3. because my family doctor "does not believe in coincidences". Meeting with the G.E., he mainly addressed the swallowing problems telling me that he had done what he could to diagnose with the technology that we had at the highly specialized hospital that we were at, and I would have to travel about 3 hours away to see a different doctor who would do some tests involving the muscles in the esophagus. But right before I was about to leave, we started talking about lactose intolerance. He brought up other foods that I was avoiding (if any), and then the conversation went to gluten. I mentioned that I had an aunt that was gluten-sensitive. He advised that I do the blood test that can show an indication of celiac whenever in the future. I decided to do it that day. At this point in time, I was not eating much gluten because of the fact that it was personal preference. The normal range for values in this test is from 0 to 20. A few weeks later, I learned that I scored a 35. A second upper endoscopy with biopsies was scheduled, but this time I was told to eat a moderate amount of gluten everyday before the procedure. I ate about two slices of bread per day, which is more than I normally would. I was normal for the first two-three weeks of the gluten plus diet, but then I became really sick. I started getting the normal celiac symptoms, like diarrhea and extreme tiredness. Near the end, I had debilitating stomach pain and I was 2 times more asleep than awake each day. I couldn't do the 2 pieces of bread a day some days, but the pain was still there. I knew that I wouldn't ever have to force myself to eat bread for a test ever again. I was called a few days before my endoscopy telling me that a kid in a worse state than me had to take the OR during my time. I forced myself to eat more bread for another month and a half. The day finally came. I was diagnosed celiac, which I have concluded to be initiated by (1) the steroids/poison ivy and (2) the gluten binge fest. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Celiac Disease isn't completely understood yet. Most of the time if you weren't showing symptoms when you were a baby (so your case) it means that celiac was/could be triggered by an event in your life that causes stress on the body (like stress, physical injury, etc.). The positive result that you got from the blood test doesn't automatically mean celiac, but it could. Here's some options: Talk to your doctor (or a different doctor) or even a specialist gastroenterologist (you can get a referral from a family doctor (general physician)) and see if you can do the blood test again, you have to have some kind of gluten for this to work in advance, so if you don't want to break your gluten-free streak, than don't really invest in this option. If you feel comfortable, you could even ask to do this test under a few scenarios (no gluten (now) and after a gluten binge, compare results). If you do this test and your indication is low off gluten and then high after gluten, I'd probably skip the biopsy. That's a strong enough sign that you don't need to put yourself through the painful-gluten binge. Maybe this is what that first doctor just assumed. But having that test when you haven't had any gluten could make the difference - it acts as a control. Go straight to the biopsy. You could do this, but I'd probably do the blood test first. I went through a lot of stress with the gluten-binge that you have to do to get an accurate result, you would also be breaking your gluten-free diet that may/may not be helping you right now. Do nothing, stay on your gluten free diet hoping that it is helping you. But if you are not celiac or gluten-sensitive (celiac before it starts to wreck your small intestine), going gluten free isn't healthy - you can do some research on this if it interests you. If you feel bad/unhealthy after going gluten free it's probably a sign. Good luck, also know that you might come to a point of stress in your life that can start celiac's destructive path. Ultimately, it is your body, and you should not feel forced or hesitate to act on health issues that impact you.

I'm sorry that life is so hard right now. Really. I can't imagine working 3 jobs and trying to manage this terrible illness. I think about American society and their obsession with food often. Whenever you look at the internet, there are all these fabulous gluten-free recipes, but when you don't have time or money to cook these things, a simple gluten-free lifestyle is just that - simple. There isn't a lot of variety, so it's kind of boring. But, I guess I have gotten used to being boring. I just eat corn chex and fruit or yogurt for breakfast. I eat a lot of eggs, beans, rice, corn tortillas, nuts, chicken, fruit and veggies. A loaf of gluten-free bread will last me 4-6 months in the freezer. I buy a bag of dried beans for $1.29, I soak them overnight, and put them in the crockpot the next day. I add different spices, sometimes chicken and Voila! - dinner is ready when I get home from a long day. Family gatherings are miserable and I haven't quite figured out the best way to deal yet. If my grandmother were still alive, I imagine she would be a lot like yours - well-meaning but not really able to understand the nitty-gritty. I just reassure my family that I am fine and that they really shouldn't do anything special for me. I bring a bag of Hershey's kisses or other gluten-free candy I can nibble on along with my meal and then I try to treat myself to a nicer home cooked meal later in the week when I have time to cook - because who has time to cook during Christmas???? And, I agree with knitty knitty. If someone else in your family/friends were gluten-free for medical reasons, it would make socializing a bit easier. One of my husband's good friends is NCGS. When we get together as a group, we can make each other special dishes and it helps to feel less isolated. Good luck!

Hi! Um, please forgive my quirky sense of humor..... Celiac Disease is genetic... All first degree relatives of people diagnosed with Celiac Disease should be tested for the disease, too. Gall bladder problems are often associated with Celiac Disease. Your diagnosis might save your whole family from further medical problems as they age and the disease progresses... You need to set a good example if relatives are similarly diagnosed.... and then everybody will have to eat gluten free at family gatherings....

That's what I thought! My father has gluten sensitivity and I almost regret telling the doctor that because I feel that made her jump to conclusions because of that. He never had the biopsy either. I feel like doctors think it's just easier to say it's celiac when they show a gluten sensitivity to avoid additional testing, even if that diagnosis doesn't make any sense at all. My doctor didn't even offer the biopsy, and said the blood work was enough. Should I seek a third opinion? I mean, I've been gluten free for 9 months...

It will prolong your life....celiac is a autoimmune disease that causes your own immune system to attack you. The longer your eating gluten the worse it gets, I mean all kinds of other autoimmune disease, food allergies, food intolances. One day you could lose the ablity to eat carbs, or sugars, or become randomly allergic to tomatoes or corn all cause you decided not to be on road to healing I am not kidding here. I am allergic to corn, can not process meats, have another autoimmune disease that makes it so I can not eat dairy or CARBS/SUGARS. I wish I could go back in time and go on a gluten-free diet a decade ago. Worse that could happen you could develop cancer or other complications and yes we have had this happen to a member before on our forums. Think of it like this your just changing brand here I will give you some links to some gluten-free foods, and how to order them, You can even order alot of them online this should help simplify it for you. I suggest thrive, amazon, or one of hte other links from there, Many you can order from the manufacture. https://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/117090-gluten-free-food-alternatives-list/