Concern about the accuracy of negative celiac disease blood tests tops the list
By Maria Luci, Director of Research Engagement
After years of working to accelerate celiac disease science, Beyond Celiac was thrilled to see a burst of new and exciting research published in 2021. We continue to fund top research into treatments toward a cure for celiac disease, along with investigations into neurological symptoms and damage attributed to celiac disease, and champion researchers trying to unlock the mysteries of this serious autoimmune disease.
Beyond Celiac was on top of the latest news throughout the year, publishing roughly 30 articles on emerging celiac science. The most popular news articles of the year focused on concerns around a common celiac disease diagnostic test, potential treatments in the development pipeline, and neurological symptoms revealed through our patient registry, Go Beyond Celiac.
Below is the full list of top news stories of the year, as determined by page views on our website.
A study from Mayo Clinic researchers brought into question the accuracy of a negative TTG-IgA test for celiac disease. The researchers looked into what is referred to as verification bias in determining the actual sensitivity and specificity of this commonly used test. While the study authors found positive results to be accurate, they cautioned there may be a much higher number of false negatives than previously believed. This could be leading to those with celiac disease potentially remaining undiagnosed. Lead study author and panelist at our November Mini-Conference, Isabel Hujoel, MD, stated, “We found that when we adjust for verification bias, the sensitivity of [TTG- IgA] could be as low as 35.4 percent. If this is accurate, it would mean that [TTG-IgA] may perform worse than the flip of a coin in telling us if someone has celiac disease.”
An international group of researchers is studying whether monoclonal antibodies, used to treat COVID-19 and other illnesses, may also be effective against celiac disease. Monoclonal antibodies are a type of treatment also called biologics. An example of an FDA-approved monoclonal antibody treatment currently on the market is Humira, which is used to treat arthritis, Crohn’s disease and more. In this particular study, researchers tested a monoclonal antibody in mice and found it was able to prevent celiac disease from developing.
A phase 2 clinical trial of TAK-101 found that it prevented an immune response to gluten. This potential treatment for celiac disease uses nanoparticles to attempt to retrain the immune system to have a tolerance to gluten. The drug is now moving on to the next phase of clinical trial.
A survey in the Beyond Celiac patient registry and database, Go Beyond Celiac, revealed that a number of neurological and psychological symptoms are incredibly common in those with celiac disease. Taken by roughly 1,500 registrants, the survey found that 86% of participants experience brain fog. Additionally, over 71% reported migraines and 47% said they experienced peripheral neuropathy. This survey further adds to the growing evidence that celiac disease should also be considered more than just a GI-related disease.
A phase 1 trial launched in 2021 for KAN-101, a potential treatment for celiac disease. This trial is looking into the safety and tolerability of the drug in those with celiac disease. This drug is aiming to create immune tolerance to gluten by targeting liver receptors to “reeducate” the immune system. Stephan Kontos, PhD, who originally developed KAN-101 stated that the drug, “delivers proteins into an immune tolerance pathway located in the liver. In doing so, [it] leverages a natural process the liver routinely performs. By using our platform, we retrain the immune pathway to induce tolerance to almost any protein of interest, in this case gliadin (gluten).”
If you would like to read a full review of all the top celiac disease research news of 2021, you can download our free roundup here. You can also sign up to receive Beyond Celiac research news via email here.