Top 5 research news stories from Beyond Celiac in 2022

December 16, 2022

As we approach the end of 2022, we are reflecting on the significant strides made this year toward finding treatments and a cure for celiac disease. It’s never been a better time to be a celiac disease patient as we have so many potential treatments on the horizon. Although we have more work ahead, Beyond Celiac is extremely grateful for our community’s support as well as for all the researchers, physicians, biotech, pharmaceutical, and other companies helping to accelerate research alongside us. 

When it comes to celiac disease research, there’s never been a busier time! And while there was disappointment in the first phase 3 study being discontinued, there were many highlights and promising trial results.

Beyond Celiac as an organization has accomplished so much this year, including hosting a research summit that convened top researchers, patients, and other stakeholders to collaborate on overcoming remaining barriers to a cure. We also made major contributions to the body of science through presentations of original Beyond Celiac research and Beyond Celiac-funded research at the 2022 International Celiac Disease Symposium. Multiple new translational research grant opportunities were opened, positioning us as the premier international celiac disease research funder. And so much more!

While more research than ever was conducted and published this year, below are the top five most popular stories from 2022:

1. Potential new drug for celiac disease targets pathway in the liver to end harmful response to gluten

A new treatment for celiac disease that targets the liver’s ability to clear harmful substances from the blood has shown promising results in an early phase of clinical trials, according to results presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).

The drug, KAN-101, is focused on restoring normal immune tolerance of gluten by targeting specific receptors on the liver, setting off a cascade of events that re-teach the immune system not to respond to gluten. Unlike broad immunosuppressants, KAN-101 targets only the part of the immune system that drives celiac disease. It is being developed by Anokion, a clinical stage bio-tech company focused on improving the treatment and outcomes of autoimmune diseases.

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2. Potential celiac disease drug that breaks down gluten protects against damage to the small intestine, study results show

A drug designed to break gluten into harmless fragments successfully protected against damage of the small intestine in celiac disease patients, according to results of a study presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).

Latiglutenase, a treatment for celiac disease being developed by ImmunogenX Inc., also reduced or prevented symptoms, research presented by Joseph Murray, MD, lead study author, showed.

In the phase 2 study, called CeliacShield, 25 participants with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet received 1,200 milligrams of latiglutenase daily. A second group of 25 study participants received a placebo.

Both groups were given a daily challenge of 2 grams of gluten for six weeks. The challenge consisted of breadcrumbs that study participants ate with their evening meal along with the drug or placebo. The study occurred in the middle of the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a few study participants to drop out, Murray said.

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3. Increased risk of cancer in celiac disease is small and limited to diagnosis after 40

An increased risk of cancer in those who have celiac disease is small and largely limited to the first year after diagnosis in those diagnosed after the age of 40, a Swedish study has found.

Overall, the increased risk results in one extra case of cancer in 125 celiac disease patients followed for 10 years, the study says.

The overall risk was highest in those diagnosed with celiac disease after the age of 60 and was not increased in those diagnosed before the age of 40, according to researchers from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and various medical institutions in Sweden.

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4. Phase 3 study of drug to treat celiac disease discontinued

The Phase 3 clinical trial investigating larazotide acetate as a treatment for celiac disease was discontinued today by 9 Meters Biopharma, Inc.

An interim analysis of patient data in the CedLara trial found that the size of the treatment group that would be needed to determine a significant clinical outcome between study participants receiving the drug and those getting a placebo was too large to support continuation of the trial, the company said in a press release.

The analysis included the first half of the initial target enrollment and followed completion of the 12-week, double-blind efficacy portion of the study. Efficacy measures whether a drug has the intended treatment result. The study was investigating use of larazotide for patients with celiac disease who continue to have gastrointestinal symptoms while on the gluten-free diet.

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5. Five years after diagnosis, more than half of those with celiac disease still have symptoms

Even when on a gluten-free diet more than half of those with celiac disease remained symptomatic during the five years after diagnosis, a study presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) found.

Many of these patients had the same symptoms that prompted them to be diagnosed in the first place, according to the researchers affiliated with Harvard University, the Mayo Clinic and the University of Washington.

The study was based on a review of the medical charts of 212 biopsy-confirmed celiac disease patients following a gluten-free diet who were seen at Mayo Clinic between 2012 and 2018 and agreed to join a celiac disease registry. They also had at least two follow-up visits in the first five years after diagnosis and a follow-up biopsy.

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Want to help accelerate research? Some easy ways to get involved include joining Go Beyond Celiac, donating to research, or volunteering for a clinical trial. You can also sign up to receive Beyond Celiac research news via email here.

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