Earlier this week we learned that some people are growing real leather in labs and that cows will possibly be able to graze in peace forever more. Now, every person with coeliac disease who passes a bakery and finds their eyes filling with the tears of unrequited bread love may be able to one day digest gluten without feeling awful after. Coeliac disease is considered an autoimmune disease and means your body can’t digest a protein, gluten, found in certain grains. After ingesting gluten, you can undergo awful cramps, bloating, headaches, and fatigue. It is estimated that one in a hundred people have coeliac disease.
The New York Times reports that pharmaceutical companies are carrying out extensive research into developing a pill that will prevent the side effects of gluten on a coeliac-suffering stomach. While the proposed medication won’t be anywhere near a complete cure, you’ll still need to follow a gluten-free diet according to researchers, it will help with symptoms caused after an accidental ingestion of gluten, such as when it ‘leaks’ into food. (The article also says that gluten can be found in surprising places like lipstick.)
While it makes sense for Big Pharma to follow the statistics when it comes to developing new products, there’s also a need to help the slice of the population that have to tolerate, as a Dr. Daniel A. Leffler describes it, “a whole degree of anxiety and social isolation” due to the disease. The increasing awareness of coeliac disease has seen more food companies making gluten-free products, and one there’s even a Parisian-based website helping sufferers hook-up.
So, that bakery scenario we outlined above is still something of a doughy fantasy, but if science is going to help people avoid pain and illness, we have to say bring on what you can.
The drugs are expected to arrive in 2018. Would you be interested?
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun
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