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Australian Researchers Begin Work on a Vaccine for Celiac Disease

Celiac.com 10/29/2002 - Dr Robert Anderson, Research Fellow at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford (now based at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia), and colleagues recently announced their intent to begin work on a vaccine that could cure celiac disease. The Australian teams work will be based on Dr. Andersons earlier groundbreaking Oxford research that identified the specific set of protein sequences in gluten that cause damage to the guts of those with celiac disease (see: Nature Medicine 6, 337 - 342 - 01 Mar 2000). In addition to finding a possible cure for celiac disease the teams research could open the door for a specific diagnostic test for the disease, new treatment and prevention strategies, and even the possibility of producing grains that do not contain the harmful sequences. Dr. Andersons future research will focused on proving that a specific "toxic peptide" can be used to desensitize or induce tolerance in people with celiac disease, and any vaccine would likely be the "toxic peptide" itself or a modified form of it.

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The Australian team also announced their agreement for the commercialization of new celiac disease technology developed by the University of Oxford. BTG and Isis will develop diagnostic tests and treatments for gluten intolerance. BTG is a London-based technology transfer company which has bought the rights to the teams discovery, and Isis Innovation Ltd, is Oxford Universitys wholly-owned technology transfer company that was established in 1988 and is a world leader in university technology transfer. Under the terms of the Isis agreement, BTG will have exclusive access to the Universitys technology for use in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of celiac disease. The technology is based on identification of the particular epitopes that cause priming of the immune system in celiac disease. BTG will underwrite all costs associated with the development and commercialization of the technology, and will share any revenue from commercialization of the technology with Isis and the University.

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