Celiac Disease Becoming “Public Health Issue”

August 3, 2010

Celiac Disease Becoming “Public Health Issue”

Mayo Clinic article highlights effects of celiac disease and challenges in research efforts.

Celiac disease is on the rise and, left untreated, can quadruple the risk of death, according to an article summarizing research at the Mayo Clinic.

Published in the July 2010 issue of Discovery’s Edge, the article noted troubling statistics, including the fourfold increase in celiac disease since the 1950s, and the ongoing attempt to learn more about the “hidden” illness. Research efforts at Mayo Clinic have been led by Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist and member of the NFCA’s Medical Advisory Board. [View a video of Dr. Murray discussing research findings.]
According to the article, researchers are particularly interested in refractory celiac disease, when the body fails to respond to a gluten-free diet. “That’s a rare condition, but one which we’ve been very invested in because that’s the sharp end of celiac disease,” Dr. Murray said.
Dr. Murray is now working with scientists to develop a mouse model that mimics a human case of celiac disease. According to the article, they’ve made progress, but the model will take time to perfect.
As research continues, Dr. Murray stressed the importance of screening and, in the case of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. With the apparent rise in prevalence, celiac disease runs the risk of “becoming a public health issue,” he noted.