Article

Potential New Treatment May Protect Celiac Patients from Gluten-Induced Injury

Bethesda, MD (June 12, 2014) — The gluten-specific enzyme ALV003 reduces a patient’s exposure to gluten and its potential harm, according to a new phase 2 study appearing in Gastroenterology1, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. This study is the first to find that a non-dietary intervention can potentially benefit celiac disease patients.

Study participants were put on an everyday gluten-free diet, challenged with up to 2 grams of gluten daily (equivalent to approximately one half of a standard slice of bread in the U.S.). Researchers found that daily oral administration of ALV003, at the time of gluten ingestion, decreased gluten-induced injury to the small intestine. The treatment appeared to be well tolerated. Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and abdominal pain, were greater in the placebo group compared with those receiving active treatment.

“Total avoidance of gluten is, at best, challenging,” said lead study author, Marja-Leena Lahdeaho, University of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital, Finland. “The potential of ALV003 for celiac disease is significant given that ongoing exposure to low levels of gluten can cause patients to experience persistent symptoms and chronic intestinal inflammation, despite following a strict gluten-free diet.”

Gluten is widely used in the food and other industries. Cross contamination during food processing is difficult to avoid and the labeling of food products can be inaccurate, misleading or incorrect. The gluten-free diet is socially troublesome, expensive and compliance is problematic. Additionally, traces of gluten can be found in common items such as envelope glue and makeup. These challenges lead to consumption of small amounts of gluten in even the most cautious patients. Thus, there is a need for the development of a pharmacologic therapy that will work with or replace a gluten-free diet.

As the first evidence of a therapeutic intervention for celiac disease meeting primary endpoints, this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial is a welcomed addition to celiac research. Future studies are warranted before ALV003 can come to market; a 500-person multi-center trial is currently ongoing.

For more information on celiac disease, read AGA’s patient brochure.

Research funding for this study was provided by Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

1Lähdeaho, Marja-Leena et al. Glutenase ALV003 Attenuates Gluten-Induced Mucosal Injury in Patients With Celiac Disease. Gastroenterology 2014; 146(7): 1649 - 1658.

About the AGA Institute 

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.

About Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology, the official journal of the AGA Institute, is the most prominent scientific journal in the specialty and is in the top 1 percent of indexed medical journals internationally. The journal publishes clinical and basic science studies of all aspects of the digestive system, including the liver and pancreas, as well as nutrition. The journal is abstracted and indexed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences, Chemical Abstracts, Current Contents, Excerpta Medica, Index Medicus, Nutrition Abstracts and Science Citation Index. For more information, visit www.gastrojournal.org.

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