Vaccine trial flags challenge to celiac disease

Apr 03, 2009

An effective clinical treatment for coeliac disease (or gluten intolerance) is the ultimate objective of WEHI clinician scientist, Dr Bob Anderson. This month will see the beginning of a Phase 1 clinical trial for an experimental vaccine in Melbourne. If the vaccine development and public awareness endeavours of Dr Anderson and his scientific team prove successful, a strict gluten free diet for coeliacs could become a thing of the past, while previously undiagnosed coeliacs could be detected and spared from premature deaths.

Using forty volunteers who suffer from coeliac disease, the early trial will test for drug safety - in particular, an appropriate drug dose range will be ascertained and any adverse effects will be noted. If within the course of a year the Phase 1 trial is deemed successful, a Phase 2 trial will beckon to determine the clinical effectiveness of the vaccine.

Coeliac disease is a chronic, autoimmune digestive disorder. It is characterised by the body's own immune system mistakenly attacking the lining of the small intestine. The attack is caused by the body's reaction to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. The immediate physiological result is that the small intestine's villi - the small, upright folds and nodules that absorb nutrients - are flattened and incapacitated by errant inflammatory action.

Globally, the disease is estimated to affect the lives of more than 6 million people in Europe, North America and Australia - but at least 5 million may be unaware that they are suffering from the disease. While people in this latter group are likely to feel the direct effects and sometimes life-threatening complications of coeliac disease, the root cause of their debilitation nevertheless remains undiagnosed.

Long-term risks for untreated coeliac disease include malnutrition, male and female infertility, osteoporotic fractures, liver failure and cancer. Presently, the only effective treatment for coeliac disease is a life-long avoidance of any food or drink that contains the slightest trace of gluten.

Dr Anderson said, "As both a coeliac disease researcher and treating gastroenterologist, I am in an interesting position. I have overseen my basic scientific discovery about the troublesome elements in gluten being translated into an experimental vaccine that may eventually help my patients.

"There is actually a third aspect to my involvement in this project. While WEHI has provided the essential infrastructure for my scientific research, I have gone a step further and created a company, Nexpep, to lead development of the vaccine and to work closely with other Melbourne based, early stage pharmaceutical development specialists, Medicines Development Ltd and Nucleus Network.

"The vaccine itself is intended to gradually desensitize the coeliac sufferer, so that gluten is tolerated. Consequently, the villi in the small intestine should revive and absorb nutrients in the normal way. Ideally, that would mean the end of gluten-free diets for people with coeliac disease."

Source: Research Australia (news : web)

Explore further: Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease linked

Dec 10, 2008

Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and celiac disease appear to share a common genetic origin, scientists at the University of Cambridge and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, have confirmed.

Leukemia vaccine tested in clinical trials

Dec 11, 2007

U.S. scientists say patients responding to a new peptide vaccine for leukemia enjoyed a median remission more than three times longer than non-responders.

More Chinese wheat gluten is recalled

Apr 04, 2007

A U.S. pharmaceutical and nutritional chemicals company has recalled all possibly contaminated wheat gluten it has imported from a Chinese supplier.

Recommended for you

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

12 hours ago

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Tracking flu levels with Wikipedia

12 hours ago

Can monitoring Wikipedia hits show how many people have the flu? Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, USA, have developed a method of estimating levels of influenza-like illness in the American population by analysing ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Ashy
1 / 5 (1) Apr 04, 2009
Fist they make a poliovaccine sometimes resulting coeliac disease, second they do a vaccine against this disease, which will lead to other health problems. Then they will find one more vaccine against new disease and so on. It's very big source of money, isn't it?

More news stories

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.