As someone living with Celiac disease, I know that I would be incredibly grateful if I could be able to dine out at restaurants, friends’ and family members’ houses and not have to worry about asking 1000 questions before I could eat my meal. Researchers have been working on developing strategies to reduce the harmful impact of consuming small amounts of gluten for people with Celiac disease. A recent study looked at the effects of a new drug (ALV003 – a combination of 2 gluten-specific enzymes that break down gluten so that it does not trigger an immune reaction) on reducing the negative impact of a small amount of gluten consumption on the small intestine of adults diagnosed with Celiac disease. Participants were asked to consume 2 grams of gluten (given in breadcrumbs) per day for 6 weeks. After the 6-week gluten challenge, results from intestinal biopsies revealed that participants given a placebo experienced intestinal damage whereas those who had taken ALV003 did not experience damage to their small intestine. Interestingly, although ALV003 did reduce the harmful effects of a small amount of gluten consumption in the small intestine, there was no significant difference in the negative symptoms reported (e.g., nausea, bloating, etc.) between participants who took a placebo and those who were given ALV003.
While it is unlikely that people with Celiac disease can expect to have a future where they don’t have to worry about gluten, this drug does offer the potential to reduce the harmful effects of a small amount of gluten (i.e., from cross-contamination) on the small intestine. Although the study may not have included enough participants to be able to detect any differences in side effects between the conditions, the preliminary findings suggest that taking the this new drug (ALV003) did not prevent general uncomfortable side effects from gluten consumption. Future research is needed to assess the long-term health impact of taking ALV003.
In the meantime – what else can you do if you are someone who is struggling with side effects from consuming trace amounts of gluten? Talk to a member of our team to see if including foods like bone broth or fermented products (such as kefir or sauerkraut), or supplements (i.e., probiotics or L-glutamine) could be beneficial for your gut health.
Struggling with following a gluten-free diet? Check out this article on 5 Strategies for Living Gluten-free.