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University of Sunshine Coast trials vaccine for coeliac disease

Coeliac sufferers could soon be able to eat gluten, with a vaccine trial starting tomorrow.

The University of the Sunshine Coast’s Clinical Trials Centre will trial a new vaccine that aims to improve the lives of those with coeliac disease by switching off their immune response to gluten.

Coeliac disease is a serious chronic medical condition in which eating gluten, even in small amounts, leads to an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine.

Currently, the only way to manage the disease is to avoid gluten – something that is difficult and expensive, with the product used in a wide range of food.

Centre director Lucas Litewka said the vaccine would be given to trial participants as an injection twice a week for seven weeks.

He said the trial would be conducted alongside gastroenterologist James Daveson.

Dr Daveson said a gluten-free diet was exceptionally demanding for patients, expensive and difficult to maintain, as gluten was used extensively in modern food production.

“There is a real unmet need for therapies other than the gluten-free diet for some people with coeliac disease,” he said.

“This is a very exciting potential new therapy that has been undergoing clinical trials for several years now.”

Dr Daveson said the investigational vaccine might potentially restore gluten tolerance in coeliac disease sufferers.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 70 can take part in this trial if they have medically diagnosed coeliac disease and have been following a strict gluten-free diet for 12 months or more.

Contact the USC Trials Centre on (07) 5456 3797.

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