After a quiet month or two, along come a whole host of interesting developments in the world of Coeliac Disease and gluten free food! Strap in for a bumper edition of my regular ‘plain English’ summary.
Diagnosis & Treatments
New blood test for Coeliac being developed – Biotech company ImmusantT, who are also developing a potential Coeliac treatment (below), have conducted research into the immune response of people with Coeliac Disease when they consume gluten. They found specific immune responses traceable in blood, that could lead to development of a Coeliac blood test without the need for a prolonged gluten challenge – great news for anyone who has removed gluten before seeking diagnosis!
Interestingly, they also found a different response to the fructans (a type of carbohydrate) in the blood of people with Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity; opening the possibility of the first diagnostic tool for this condition.
It seems likely that these diagnostic tests may be available before their treatment comes to market.
Nexvax2 reports safety trial results – the company also reported the results of their latest trials on a potential type of vaccine for Coeliac Disease which sought to establish the best dosage to use in the next phase of trials which will examine how effective it is. The treatment is still in the early stages of development.
Early use of antibiotics not linked to Coeliac Disease – whilst use of antibiotics in early infancy is often cited as a risk factor for development of allergy; research suggests that it does not increase the risk of developing Coeliac Disease or Type 1 Diabetes in those people genetically predisposed to either condition.
Source: Med Page Today
Coeliac Disease research receives less public US funding than other conditions – researchers have analysed public funding allocated to research into gastro-intestinal disorders and found that Coeliac Disease does not receive proportional funding to the number of people who suffer from the condition compared with other conditions such as Crohn’s.
The study did not comment on the methods used to prioritise funding which could include other factors for example severity of impact, gaps in medical knowledge or even the quality of the proposals received for research. It does however flag an untapped opportunity for research organisations to make widespread impact.
Gluten Free Products
Genetically modified wheat in Coeliac-friendly bread – in a move that has divided Coeliac bloggers and commentators, a research team in Spain are working on genetically modifying wheat to remove the proteins responsible for the Coeliac immune reaction, whilst retaining most of the properties needed for baking. The trials are in early days as they have not yet eliminated all of the proteins required, but if successful this could increase the options open for coeliacs, and will be welcome to those who struggle to adapt to or maintain a naturally gluten free diet. A very balanced comment from Sarah Sleet of Coeliac UK in this article.
Source: New Scientist
Juvela to be listed in Tesco – gluten free prescription manufacturers, Juvela, have finally cottoned on to the decline in the gluten free prescription market and have some of their bread products listed in Tesco. Whilst many of those formerly in receipt of prescriptions may remain loyal to Juvela, I can’t help but wonder if it might be ‘too little too late’ to secure the brand’s future in the UK – indeed their use of gluten free wheat starch, whilst common in other European countries, often causes concern for consumers here in the UK, and may be less likely to capture the ‘lifestyle’ market that has been key to the success of other gluten free consumer brands.
Source: Bakery & Snacks
Cheerios no longer labelled gluten free in Canada – if you follow any US coeliac blogs you will know that debate rages about the ‘gluten free’ status of Cheerios and other cereals made by General Mills the other side of the pond. The reason for this is that the manufacturer uses a mechanical sorting method to remove gluten grains from the oats they use, rather than using oats free from contamination at source. This means that the gluten content of the cereal could vary from box to box, as gluten testing is done ‘on average’ by mixing batches; with many Coeliacs reporting illness from contaminated batches. General Mills have now pulled the ‘gluten free’ label from Cheerios in Canada “awaiting consistent government testing protocols”. For now, the gluten free label remains south of the border in USA.
Cheerios and other General Mills cereals in the UK are not gluten free, consumers may wish to be aware of occasional imported products from General Mills in venues such as Cereal Killer cafe in London; and the international food aisles of some large supermarkets.
Source: Global News (Canada)
Well done if you made it this far – you are keen! If so you are exactly the sort of person who might enjoy the upcoming conference Food Matters Live on 21st-23rd November. Along with a wealth of knowledgeable free from industry experts, I will be speaking in the ‘Free From’ seminar stream. You can register for the conference here.