Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an inherited,
autoimmune disease in which the lining
of the small intestine is damaged from
eating gluten and other proteins found
in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

Melbourne biotech company Nexpep
has created a vaccine to desensitize
people with celiac disease to gluten.

The intolerance to gluten, the main
protein in wheat, rye and barley,
causes the immune system to attack
the gut.

Now British and Australian scientists
have pinpointed why the protein can
be so toxic.

They gave 200 patients bread, rye
muffins or boiled barley to eat and,
tested their blood six days later to see
how their immune systems responded.
This showed that 90 of the 2,700
protein fragments that make up gluten
had been treated as toxic by their
But three were particularly bad, the
journal Science Translational Medicine
Melbourne-based researcher Dr Bob
Anderson said: 'These three
components account for the majority of
the immune response to gluten.'

Nexpep has  recently completed a
clinical trial testing the vaccine. Trial
no: NCT00879749.