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Friday, August 1, 2008

Celiac Disease Might Soon Be Cured!


It's been a big week for medical accomplishments and related announcements. Dr. Alessio Fasano, a gastroenterologist who directs the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland has learned that Celiac Disease might be an auto-immune disease, in which the human body literally attacks itself. The solution to the problem might soon be found in a pill

Dr. Fasano is conducting Phase 2 clinical trials of a celiac disease drug called larazotide acetate. He hopes it can end much suffering.

Autoimmune disease trigger possibly found
By Euna Lhee Sun reporter
July 31, 2008

Maryland researchers have identified a key receptor in the intestine that can trigger celiac disease, and they hope their findings can be applied to other autoimmune disorders, such as Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. People with the condition cannot process a protein called gluten - most commonly found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley, but also found in medicines and vitamins.

Common in the general population, celiac disease affects an estimated 2 million Americans, or one out of 133 people, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.In this month's issue of Gastroenterology, University of Maryland scientists wrote that gliadin, the toxic component of gluten for celiac patients, binds to an intestinal receptor called CXCR3. The receptor then releases the protein zonulin, which makes the intestine more permeable.

"We know a lot about celiac disease, but we never understood the question of how the protein gains access in the intestine," said Dr. Alessio Fasano, a gastroenterologist who directs the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland and lead author of the study."Further study is needed, but this could allow us to intervene so that less zonulin is released, which may prevent the immune response altogether."

In healthy people, the intestine is permeable only for short periods. But in celiac patients, the effect is longer-term, which may cause a variety of health complications. Eventually, the immune system responds by ...

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