Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celiac Disease Vaccine News

Perhaps all of us that must follow a Gluten-Free diet and deal with the consequences of Celiac Disease anxiously await news of a Celiac Disease Vaccine.  It now appears that the reality of a Celiac Disease Vaccine may be getting closer that we could imagine, according to a just-published article I read about a Phase I medical trial undertaken in Australia that evaluated the safety, tolerability, and bioactivity of the vaccine Nexvax2® (being developed by US biotechnology company ImmusanT), of which Dr. Anderson is Chief Scientific and Medical Officer.

The results of the Phase-I medical trials of Nexvax2 looked promising, and here are some of the highlights of what this Celiac Disease Vaccine trial is showing thus far:
  • "Nexvax2® aims to desensitise patients to the three specific peptides in gluten that we have previously identified as 'toxic' to people with coeliac disease," Dr Anderson said. "Our Phase I study showed that Nexvax2® was safe to use and well tolerated, and importantly, that it had the desired biological response in patients with celiac disease."

  • the vaccine would be suitable for treating the approximately 90 per cent of celiac disease patients with the DQ2 genetic form of disease.

  • [the Phase I trial] saw a Nexvax2®-specific T-cell response that confirms the desired bioactivity in HLA-DQ2 genotype patients.

  • "The Phase I study evaluated the effect of weekly injections of Nexvax2® over three weeks in celiac patients on a strict gluten-free diet. At the highest doses, some patients had gastrointestinal symptoms similar to what they'd experience after eating gluten products. This suggests the vaccine uses the correct peptides for eventually being able to tolerate gluten."

    ** I read the above portion and thought: UGHGH!  Weekly injections!?  Well, if it was only *three* weeks, I could deal with it, but I certainly would not want to have to do that on a continual basis.  I would hope that any final Celiac Disease Vaccine to make it to market would be truly a "vaccine" in that you get your shots up-front, or in a close series, and then perhaps a "booster shot" down the road a bit... and, if for any reason that is not the case, I do not think I would consider this to truly be a vaccine for Celiac Disease, but rather a "treatment" option.
  • the Celiac-Disease Vaccine is expected to enter Phase II trials within the next 10 months, and hope to demonstrate a dramatic reduction in the body's rejection of dietary gluten so patients can resume a normal diet and return to good health.

    ** My immediate thoughts: OH HOW AWESOME THAT WOULD BE! I would still likely consume mostly gluten-free items, especially all various healthy GF grains and things I currently enjoy — like Buckwheat, Quinoa, Teff, etc. — but I would so welcome the ability eat some "real" artisan bread, drink a nice dark Guinness beer, and enjoy a slice of "real" deep-dish pizza again if I chose to on a whim :)

It turns out that the peptides used as part of the vaccine could also be used to improve diagnostic testing of celiac disease, which certainly could be a nice medical breakthrough too — anything that improves medical testing for Celiac Disease and results in proper and accurate diagnosis is good news.  One way or the other, this medical breakthrough sure reads like good news in the battle against gluten and its ill effects on those of use with dietary restrictions imposed by the disease.

Here's hoping this all develops into a great Vaccine against Gluten damage in those of use with Celiac Disease!


Ellen said...

Sounds almost like a series of allergy shots. I'm not certain getting rid of the gastrointestinal symptoms is really making the gluten "safe" for people with Celiac Disease.

With luck, the research will pan out, and we'll get more information about the reactions of the immune system and its effects in the long term.

Anonymous said...

Im keeping my fingers crossed and the Miller Lite cold! I hope this works! I miss convenience.