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Enzyme Shows Promise In Dissolving Gliadin Peptides in Celiac Patients

Photo: CC--Mike 03/27/2017 - A number of researchers are looking to provide alternative or adjunct treatments to the gluten-free diet in celiac disease. Meanwhile, a number of companies are currently developing a wide variety of such options, ranging from various kinds of enzyme therapies, to treatments that eliminate celiac disease reactions, even to vaccines to inoculate celiac sufferers against their condition, perhaps allowing for full recovery and a return to non-gluten-free eating habits, as desired. At least, that's one dream.

More likely will be the development of enzymes or other treatments that offer celiacs varying degrees of protection from gluten ingestion. Most likely, such treatments would be designed to augment an existing gluten-free diet, and to provide protection against moderate gluten-contamination when eating out.

One particular enzyme that shows strong potential in breaking down toxic peptides in A-gliadin, the main culprit in celiac reactions, is caricain. A recent paper discusses the scientific principles behind the use of caricain for enzyme therapy. The paper is based on a recent study, in which a team of researchers set out to review the structures of the toxic peptides in A-gliadin for key sequences of amino acids or motifs related to toxicity, especially with respect to digestive difficulties, or immunogenicity.

The research team included Hugh J. Cornell and Teodor Stelmasiak. They are affiliated with the RMIT University, School of Applied Sciences, Melbourne, Australia, and with Glutagen Pty Ltd, Maribyrnong, Victoria, Australia.

For their study, they first evaluated structures of synthetic A-gliadin peptides shown to be toxic in the fetal chick assay, both before and after digestion with duodenal mucosa from patients in long remission.

They also measured synthetic peptides corresponding to the undigested residues, and compared the key amino acid sequences, to see if they might be related to direct toxicity and immunogenicity of the peptides.

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They found that the smallest toxic peptides from celiac mucosal digestion were octa-peptides, which they found in greater amounts than similar products from normal digestion.

One of those peptides corresponded to residues 12-19 of A-gliadin and contained the key motifs PSQQ and QQQP of De Ritis et al., while the other corresponded to residues 72-79, and contained the key motif PYPQ (extending to PYPQPQ).

These key motifs have been noted by other workers, especially those investigating immunological activity over the past two decades. Their in undigested residues from celiac mucosal digestion

These motifs, along with the greater prevalence of these residues, as compared with residues from normal digestion, supports the basic notions underpinning enzyme therapy for celiac disease.

These study also supports the basic scientific merits of research and development of the enzyme caricain to break down gliadin peptides with two different types of toxicity, and thus to potentially benefit people with celiac disease.

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5 Responses:

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said this on
03 Apr 2017 2:00:24 PM PST
Hi Jefferson, Thank you for your work in this area, I appreciate it very much. I have a question. For context, are you saying that if I eat papayas (which caricain comes from), then my body's ability to break down the gluten prior to it hitting my cilia will be enhanced ? I prefer to do things naturally, and it would seem common sense to me. I love these articles, but it is hard as a reader and ill person (with celiac), to discern the message being sent and how to make it a healthy action. Thank you

Jefferson Adams
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said this on
14 Apr 2017 10:51:30 AM PST
Thanks for your question. I'm not sure there's clinical evidence to support the same claims for papaya alone. In many cases, therapeutic doses are formulated differently, and much more concentrated and sometimes designed to make it past the stomach and into the digestive tract. In such cases, one would need to eat huge amounts of the "natural" food in order to gain the similar effect. This is often not practical. This study establishes that this particular enzyme is effective under this particular dosage and treatment course. Short answer, this is "proven" to work, whereas papaya alone "may" provide some unspecified relief.

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said this on
03 Apr 2017 7:49:41 PM PST
Did they measure the side effects of those enzymes or do the enzymes affect the endocrine system or other organs in the long run ?

Jefferson Adams
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said this on
14 Apr 2017 10:56:10 AM PST
The short answer is no. That said, caricain is a natural enzyme that has been isolated from papayas. Such enzymes are generally regarded as safe, as they function simply by breaking down proteins in food. The fact that it seems to provide protection against celiac disease means that is may help prevent damage from the gluten, which would likely improve both short and long term health. Stay tuned for more on this and other enzyme therapies.

Bobby Saint
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said this on
19 Dec 2017 5:59:53 PM PST
Honestly, I absolutely don't know anything about peptides until I came across your post. Nevertheless, I like the fact that scientists and researchers are able to continuously develop an enzyme that can treat certain diseases such as celiac disease. This would surely benefit a lot of people who are suffering from this disease. I will be reading more about gliadin peptides and its impact on patients suffering from celiac disease. Thanks.

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