The NYT has occasionally had some pieces on being gluten-free, but they have been mostly health related like Q&A in the Wellness Blog. Around November, they featured a gluten-free chef and her Thanksgiving recipes. Yesterday’s article by Melissa Clark was different. It was about food. It wasn’t about nutrition or health-benefits, it was about baking and flavor. It quoted Shauna James-Ahern, the Gluten-Free Girl and Erin McKenna of Babycakes, two well-known voices and bakers of gluten-free. I am excited that this article ran, it means that gluten-free food really has come a long way.
Would you take weekly shots just to eat gluten again?
That’s the reality of the Nexvax2 vaccine, currently being tested in phase II. Nexvax2 works like any vaccine, where you are actually injected with the virus, causing an immune response. Since celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder, Nexvax actually contains the peptide that most celiacs (90%) have already that responds to gluten like a virus or bacteria. Apparently, in phase I testing, the gastrointenstinal stress that some participants endured after receiving injections was evidence that they had isolated the right peptide.
That’s the basic science. One shot won’t do the job, however, for celiacs. Instead, the Nexvax2 is much like allergy shots that people get regularly to control their environmental allergies. However, unlike seasonal allergy sufferers, celiacs don’t have to become hermits to avoid their allergen. All we have to do is avoid certain foods.
I’m not saying avoiding gluten is easy, but it’s certainly doable and eventually becomes part of life. Gluten-free doesn’t mean flavor-free or nutrient-free, and for many has helped them become healthier in general. I always tell people that if I could eat gluten, I would. But would I endure regular injections to have the occasional slice of cake at a co-worker’s birthday party or late night pizza? I don’t think so.
What about you? What are your thoughts on the celiac vaccine?
Normally, I don’t post about the science or medical side of celiac disease, but I thought this was news big enough to share. Nexpep, an Australian biotech company began trials to test a vaccine that could possibly turn off the immune response to the gluten peptides that make celiac patients gluten-intolerant. It seems the results of the these trials are surfacing soon.
Could this mean an actual cure for celiac disease?