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Peptide Discovery Gets To The Guts Of Celiac Disease

July 2000 - Chemistry In Britain
Summarized by Linda Blanchard

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Celiac.com 01/10/2001 - The article states that Oxford physicians and scientists did an experiment in which celiac patients who were previously on a gluten-free diet were fed a series of human-made peptides that are copies of portions of the peptide chains that are found in the gliadin portion of wheat. The hope was that by feeding those in the study overlapping partial chains, and then testing their blood for T-cells afterward, they could find which specific portion of the wheat protein set off the immune reaction in celiacs.

One single peptide did trigger the reaction. Now that it has been identified, it is hoped that some solutions to the problems caused by celiac disease may become available. Two approaches seem to involve "turning off" the reaction -- its thought that offering a megadose of the particular peptide might turn the immune reaction off. Another method would involve offering a peptide that was very similar to the offending piece of wheat protein -- but just enough different that it might "turn off" the reaction.

Another possibility is, of course, genetically modified wheat. It should be possible for scientists to develop a wheat that has a different peptide in the place of the offender, which would hopefully look, taste, and act as wheat does in normal baking without triggering celiac reactions.

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