The Future of Coeliac Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Part Two – Treatment

6 May 2024

The Future of Coeliac Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Part Two – Treatment

Last time, we spoke with Glutafin Dietitian, Katie, about the latest research into coeliac disease diagnosis. In part two of our interview, Katie provides an overview of the current research into finding alternative treatments for coeliac disease, beyond eating only gluten free foods.

Currently, the only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict, lifelong gluten free diet, but this can present challenges for many people living with the condition. Naturally, there is lots of interest in other potential treatments amongst both patients and the healthcare professionals who care for them.

We asked Katie for her thoughts…

What research is being conducted to find new treatments for coeliac disease?

There are several large pharmaceutical companies that have an interest in developing potential drug treatments for coeliac disease. Some of these are well underway with clinical trials to assess the effectiveness and, more importantly, the safety of the treatments.

Researchers based in Dundee and Sheffield are currently working on a research project that aims to investigate what causes the body’s immune cells to attack and damage the lining of the gut in someone with coeliac disease. They hope to identify the specific enzymes that trigger this reaction and then investigate whether blocking these enzymes will prevent the gut damage seen in coeliac disease.

Could this research lead to a new treatment?

The research could contribute to the development of medicines that may permanently block the problematic enzymes. Even if people with coeliac disease continue to eat only gluten free foods, such medicines might also be suitable to prevent them from feeling unwell after accidentally consuming gluten.

Is Glutafin or its parent company, Dr Schar, conducting any research you can tell us about?

Over the last 40 years, Dr Schär has invested many millions of pounds in research to improve the lives of people with gluten-related disorders, including coeliac disease. This investment has been provided to academic and medical institutions all over the world, with a significant amount awarded to UK researchers. Dr Schär’s most recent research projects have considered if and why people living with other gastroenterological conditions, such as Irritable bowel syndrome, could benefit from eating a gluten-free diet.

Dr Schär’s commitment to improving the lives of people with gluten-related disorders also extends beyond medical research. Since 2011 Dr Schär has proudly organised the biennial International Consensus Meeting for the Study of Gluten-related Conditions. This plays host to over 20 world-renowned medical experts and provides them with the opportunity to share practice, debate treatment strategies and develop published guidance for healthcare providers around the world.

Do you think coeliac disease will ever be cured?

I agree with Coeliac UK when they say that if coeliac disease was funded as generously as some other autoimmune conditions, combined with a concentrated approach, (as applied to COVID-19 research), we could achieve a breakthrough. This would make a step change in the management of the condition, eventually leading to a world without coeliac disease.

Whilst the development of potential new drugs to manage or prevent coeliac disease symptoms are exciting, there are still lots of research and safety trials needed before medical professionals will be able to offer a cure for coeliac disease. For now, we can be certain that the safest and most effective treatment for coeliac disease is a strict life-long, diet containing only gluten free foods.

How do you see the future for coeliac disease?

I think the future for coeliac disease is really exciting. There is plenty of research interest in the area and new, large-scale financial investment available to help fund this research. I think we’ll see continued improvements in the speed and rates of diagnosis, and my hope is that this will be matched by improved and consistent levels of care across the UK.

Thanks to Katie for her input on this and our part one article about the future of coeliac disease diagnosis. Remember, the only effective coeliac disease treatment right now is to eat only gluten free foods. Fortunately, Glutafin is on hand to help with gluten free foods on prescription, along with loads of ideas and recipes for cooking with gluten free foods.

If you have any questions for Katie about coeliac disease diagnosis and treatment, or if there is something you would like us to discuss on this blog, please get in touch. We’re always happy to help to inform and educate the Glutafin community.

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