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Genetic Research on Celiac Disease Promises Hope for Celiacs


Celiac.com 05/02/2011 - David van Heel, gastrointestinal genetics professor at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, has shown the world the progress that's possible by researching celiac disease after he headed a group of researchers from around the world who studied the genetic maps of more than 9,400 celiacs. Van Heel's research will surely be followed by other studies, which may possible lead to improved ways of diagnosing and treating the autoimmune disease.

As an author, researcher, and gluten-free advocate, I have been raising awareness for celiac disease because I know that with increased awareness will come more research, better diagnoses, and better treatment. Illustrating this point is the fact that van Heel's studies on the genetic links to celiac disease are leading to more research which may lead to new and more effective ways to treat the disease, a prospect which should please celiacs around the globe.

Celiac disease is caused by an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, affecting approximately 1% of the population and 300 million Americans. The disease attacks the villi, the finger-shaped structures that line the small intestine, leading to stomach troubles and malabsorption of nutrients. When left untreated, celiac disease can cause severe health conditions and complications such as anemia, osteoporosis, miscarriage, and even cancer.

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"Substantial" evidence has been found by British researchers that the genes which are connected with celiac disease are also linked to other autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. Thus scientists are able to understand how the genetic risk factors for the disease operate by changing the number of immune system genes that cells make. Additionally, it's now understood that there are "hundreds" of genetic risk factors, which means that scientists should be able to "have a good guess at nearly half of the genetic risk at present," van Heel wrote in the Nature Genetics journal, which published his study.

How come only 3% of celiac Americans have been properly diagnosed? Chances are, they or their doctors haven't even heard of the disease. Research on celiac disease in the U.S. depends completely on the generosity of benefactors for its funding. There would be no way to continue this research and the efforts to raise awareness without these charitable donations. Out of the estimated fifty autoimmune diseases that have been discovered by doctors, celiac disease is the only one for which research isn't supported by the U.S. government.

After years of running around in circles with clueless doctors in a quest to find the cause of my painful symptoms, I finally researched my symptoms on my own. Luckily, as a result of my own findings, I've been properly diagnosed, but managing the gluten-free diet is still a challenge. A pill that could offset genetic factors is appealing to many celiacs like myself. Although the treatment for celiac disease is simple, it calls for a lot of work and can be disheartening at times, requiring a total lifestyle change and a lot of time on home-cooking.

With this research into genetic links to celiac disease, we have more studies to look forward to, increased awareness, and possibly other treatment options. In the meantime, it's best to keep doing our parts to raise awareness and funds for research.

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2 Responses:

 
scQue814
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said this on
09 May 2011 10:47:13 PM PDT
Ms. Turbin's articles always seem to be a re-hashing of vague ideas with some unfulfilled promise of scientific knowledge. C'mon guys... this isn't journalism. This is a top-of-the-hour human-interest blurb--the sort of thing you assign 2nd graders so that they can learn to be better readers. Let's step it up a little, eh? You can only win over the scientific community with hard facts, not "human interest stories".

 
Alan W
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said this on
10 Aug 2011 10:32:04 PM PDT
scQue814, if you can do a better job, then I highly recommend you start your own web site. Let's see whether you can surpass celiac.com's ranking of #10,016 on Alexa.




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This place is great. Learning a lot. Honestly, I've known people with celiacs in the past, but it never occurred to me that that's what could be wrong with me. But the more I learn, the more it fits. One more thought, the articles I'm reading seem to say that we need to avoid gluten meticulously. I'm certain that I didn't accidentally eat gluten, because I've basically only eaten meat and veggies. But, my family has continued eating as normal. My kids making pancakes and it getting in the air, toast with all the crumbs everywhere, etc. Could that exposure be enough to keep my blood antibodies high? Or does it need to be ingested?

Hey, I had Hashi's some 15 years prior to my celiac disease diagnosis. My doc put me on a very lose dose of Armour. It did bring down my antibodies (by half), but they were extremely high to begin with (anything over 30 was positive and mine initially were close to 4,000). My nodules and enlargement stayed constant. Both actually went away since I have been gluten free! Like Gemini, I am on Armour for life! But that's okay. Just had my TPO checked yesterday, in fact, and now the number is 360. So, better, but that lab range is anything over 15 is positive. No reappearance of the nodules or enlargement. I am also on a low carb high fat diet to treat my diabetes too.

Yes! Call University of Chicago! Switching you from one medication that's not working to another and back again isn't helping you. It's definitely time to look at something else. I'm so sorry that you're not feeling better.

The global market for new drugs to treat celiac disease is set to surge strongly by 2021, according to the latest market report from Persistence Market Research. The company's Celiac Drugs Market report offers in-depth analysis of overall market trends, macro-economic indicators, and governing factors, along with the projected strength of individual market segments. The report also offers geographical breakdowns of the various market factors and the specific market segments they influence. View the full article

Thanks all. I took you advice and I just went for a walk instead of doing intense cardio. I'm feeling quite a bit better today but since it's friday I'm gonna rest it up also