Some people just can’t eat bread. But there are other things people allergic to gluten can’t have: a glass of beer, for instance.
You probably know someone allergic to gluten or you know someone who knows someone with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which a person has a bad, sometimes violent, immune response to gluten, a mix of proteins found in anything from pasta to soy sauce. The inflammation caused by gluten limits that person’s ability to digest and absorb key nutrients from certain food. Not only that, but if that person does consume foods with gluten, you can bet there is some damage being done to the lining of their small intestines.
What makes it really tough for people with celiac disease is that even when foods are labeled as gluten-free, it’s often a mislabeling or there’s been contamination with wheat or some other microscopic remnant of gluten. You’d better believe those with this allergy can feel it, no matter how miniscule the contaminant.
Good news: a new pill called ALV003, is on its way! This miracle pill is made up of two gluten-specific enzymes that break down gluten into safe-to-digest fragments. In a study recently published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, the results of the pill are extremely promising. Part of a study group in Finland was given placebos, the other ALV003. Both groups were given bread on a daily basis. There was virtually no damage done to the small intestines in the group that took the new medicine. Now that’s big news for people with celiac disease!
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that gluten-allergic people will soon be guzzling beer with a huge pizza pie. According to Daniel Adelman, the lead researcher:
“This drug is not intended to replace the gluten-free diet — just allow it to be more effective, we hope. There’s a compelling unmet medical need in this disease for the development of a non-dietary treatment for celiac disease, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Adelman is currently working on research to see if ALV003 can reverse or heal damage already done to the small intestine because of celiac disease. The pill is in clinical trials in the U.S but has finished clinical trials in Canada and has been deemed safe for use. It’s estimated that ALV003 will be widely available in 2–3 years.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has celiac disease, take it seriously. Watch the video below to see if you match the symptoms.