Three peptides may be responsible for immune response; finding could advance drug development.
Researchers have flagged three fragments in gluten as the potential driving force behind the autoimmune response exhibited in celiac disease.
Blood samples from more than 200 celiac disease patients were analyzed in the study, which was led by Robert Anderson, head of the celiac disease research laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Parkville, Australia, and a member of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Scientific/Medical Advisory Board. Researchers asked participants to ingest gluten, and then looked for evidence of immune response in the blood. According to the study, three specific peptides within gluten appeared to trigger the negative response.
The research group is already using the finding in a drug trial that aims to reduce the immune response to gluten, reported HealthDay. The drug works by introducing the three peptides in controlled amounts to desensitize the celiac patient's system.
The findings, however, are not definitive. Participants were limited to individuals with a genetic predisposition to celiac disease, according to Anderson. There also may be additional components in gluten triggering the response that were not identified in the study, noted Dr. Alessio Fasano Medical Director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, who also serves on NFCA’s Scientific/Medical Advisory Board.