Promising breakthrough drug could help those with celiac disease
Celiac disease prevents people from eating gluten -- found in a variety of foods, from soups to baked goods -- but now a revolutionary treatment could improve the lives of patients who can't eat gluten.
The disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten, which results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Currently, one out of 133 Canadians have the condition. Ingesting gluten can cause a variety of symptoms, including cramping, diarrhea, and bloating.
But now, a new pill called Larazotide Acetate has shown to prevent some of the damage to the small intestine gluten causes.
A University of Alberta doctor has helped to develop the drug and is overseeing the medical trials. So far, the first of three trials has shown some promising results.
"Fifty per cent of them had significant damage and only 15 per cent on the Larazotide," said Dr. R. Fedorak.
The doctor says the pill isn't meant to be a cure, but it's aimed at giving people with celiac disease some freedom.
"It is meant to allow those patients to ingest small amounts of gluten when they're say, out at a restaurant or visiting a friend's or relative's home and not have the symptoms."
Catherine Panejko is 20-years-old and has celiac disease.
"If I were holding a fork and you took my fork and put it in your pasta, I wouldn't be able to use that fork because then I would get sick."
She says she jumped at the chance to participate in the clinical trials.
"It's awesome what they've done. I can't wait for it to come out."
A fourth clinical trial is slated for later this year, and the drug could be made available by 2012.
The Canadian Celiac Association says those with celiac disease should avoid foods such as barley, breading, Communion wafers, hydrolyzed wheat protein, modified wheat starch, oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour, whole oats, wheat flour, wheat germ, and wheat starch.
For a list of foods recommended by the association click here.
With files from Laura Tupper