Study investigates a potential new treatment strategy for celiac disease – hookworms.
Many studies have shown that the gluten-free diet, which is currently the only known treatment for celiac disease, is difficult for people to adhere to and can reduce quality of life. Recently, researchers have begun to look for alternative treatments for those who have celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. One such study, conducted by Croese and colleagues from Australia, has discovered a new possible treatment strategy – hookworms.
The researchers infected 12 celiac disease adult patients with hookworms and slowly introduced gluten back into their diets over varying time periods. Although two participants withdrew from the study, ten were able to finish the three phases of escalating gluten challenges with surprising results, which were recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Ultimately, participants were able to tolerate up to 3 grams of gluten with no indications of gluten toxicity, and even experienced improved quality of life. These results could lead to future pharmaceutical therapies, though more research is needed on the subject.
Source: Croese, J., Giacomin, P., Navarro, S., Clouston, A., McCann, L., Dougall, A., … & Loukas, A. (2014). Experimental hookworm infection and gluten microchallenge promote tolerance in celiac disease. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.