Exciting developments are in the works for patients with celiac disease, says Dr. Guandalini. While celiac patients often eat outside the home, there’s always the fear of gluten cross-contamination. A drug in development would allow celiac patients to tolerate small amounts of gluten (though certainly not enough to eat a loaf of bread). Enzymes in the medication are thought to destroy gluten before it passes through the stomach into the small intestine, he explains.
Researchers are also working on a possible vaccine-type treatment for celiac disease that involves injecting a minute amount of gluten into the patient over a span of time—very similar to how allergy shots work. Clinical trials are underway at a number of research facilities, including the University of Chicago. “We’re aiming to find out if, with this approach, we can help patients tolerate gluten,” explains Dr. Guandalini.
One vaccine making headlines recently, called Nexvax2, has entered phase two clinical testing, enrolling patients with celiac disease in Australia and New Zealand. The treatment, manufactured by ImmunsanT, may "restore normal gluten tolerance" to people with the autoimmune disease and was shown to be safe in phase one testing.
This post was originally published on July 21, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy.
1. By Jessica Migala
"14 Things You Need To Know About Celiac Disease," August 26, 2019,