Coeliac vaccine passes Phase 1 trial – Are you reaching for that donut yet?
(photo credits: www.en.wikipedia.org)
Could this be the beginning of an easier life for us? Perhaps this is the birth of a long needed commercial interest in our condition?
Is this our miracle cure??
During the process of my diagnosis I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of being down prioritised. Physicians showed an alarming shortage of knowledge, and a rather uniform lack of interest. Over a period of 9 months I met with many doctors and gastro specialists. I was even in what is said to be one of Europe’s most modern and advanced university hospitals for a week. The only sign of recovery I experienced in that time was during a three day fasting period, after which I suggested to the gastro specialist that I might be reacting to some kind of food. She looked down upon me from the height of her mighty medical horse, uttered a scoff in my direction and said overbearingly “I sincerely doubt this has anything to do with food darling“. I was as good as getting ready for a pat on the head as I lay there, but thirty years young being addressed like a child.
My GP at one point suggested “we” try some antidepressants, as they have shown “wonderful results” in dealing with “tummy troubles”. I looked at her through my anemic eyes, hair falling out in clumps, chewing frantically on my seventh pack of anitbiotics that quarter; “tummy troubles”?
Anti-depressants are but one example of a powerful pocket-filler for physisians, and a fueller of medical company jets. Where there is money there is commercial pressure, and where there is a commercial interest there are sales reps and oodles of information. I am but a layman, but it seems to me that the protruding absence of knowledge among “professionals” might very well be of some connection to the lack of a push from the medical industry. If there is no drug to fix it, there will be no profit drawn, and where there is no potential profit, there will be no investment into information.
I always figured that if we should one day be so lucky as to see a “drug” immerge in the wake of coeliacs disease, we would also see a shift of focus. Drugs pose a potential for profit, thus a need for information.
And here comes the drug. Perhaps. Many drugs have failed in phases II, III and beyond, so no getting our hopes up yet. However, the study represents a shift that can only move us forward in the long run.
The drug in question is called Nexvax2 and is developed by US biotechnology company ImmusanT. The vaccine aims to “desensitize patients to three specific peptides in gluten that have previously been identified as ‘toxic’ to people with coeliacs disease” (www.wehi.edu.au). The study may also contribute to developing procedures which reduce both cost and invasiveness in the diagnosis of coeliacs disease.
In much simplified terms this vaccine aims to return coeliacs closer to a normal diet by reducing the body’s rejection of gluten (only patients with the DQ2 genetic form of the disease can be treated).
This all sounds like a dream come true, right? Hello pasta and crusty French baguettes!
Well, I won’t be reaching for that donut just yet. The success of said vaccine is a far cry from certainty at present, and if it does prove successful, who’s to say it is a healthy alternative to a gluten free diet? Here’s to hoping however, and I will certainly keep my eyes on the ball and keep you posted!
You can follow the study ‘s progress at www.immusanT.com
Phase 1 of the trials recently took place in Melbourne Australia, and Phase to is expected to commence in the following year.