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Advances Aid Treatment, Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
Date:5/19/2008

Disorder triggered by gluten in common foods, such as bread, pasta, often goes unnoticed

MONDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- New research could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease, according to studies presented at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego.

Celiac disease, which affects an estimated one in every 100 Americans, is an autoimmune disorder in the small intestine triggered by a protein called gluten, found in bread, pasta and many other common foods. Celiac disease often goes undiagnosed.

"At this time, the only effective treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet, a lifestyle that is difficult for many patients to manage," Dr. Peter H. Green, of the Columbia University Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

"Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they have celiac disease, and if left untreated, it can be life threatening. These studies ... will hopefully lead to improved diagnosis, prevention, treatment and quality of life for this disease," Green said.

In one study, researchers found that an investigational medicine called AT-1001 may protect celiac disease patients from exposure to gluten. The drug does this by preventing gluten from crossing the intestinal mucosa.

While most people with celiac disease do well on a gluten-free diet, inadvertent exposure to gluten is the leading cause of persistent symptoms in adults with celiac disease.

The study of 86 patients found that those who were given gluten and AT-1001 had fewer symptoms of gluten toxicity than those who were given gluten and a placebo. The researchers are now conducting a larger, longer trial.

"Even allowing for the fact that people in clinical trials may practice healthier habits, the fact that all of the groups showed improvement in the first week of the study is significant and helps us to plan better celiac studies," study author Dr. Daniel
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