Several interesting and exciting developments relating to gluten and coeliac disease have been published recently. Here are some of the stories:
Link between childhood gluten intake and coeliac disease
Researchers in Sweden have found that in young children with a genetic predisposition for coeliac disease, every one gram per day increase in consumption of gluten (the equivalent of half a slice of white bread) was associated with a 7.2 per cent increased risk of developing the disease.
Their study looked at the eating habits of more than 6,500 newborns between 2004 and 2010. Every few months, from the age of six months to five years, the children’s gluten intake was recorded and compared against the levels of healthy children at the same stage. At the end of the study, tests were done to see if the children had developed coeliac disease.
The study does not prove causation and many experts are cautioning against using these findings as a base for dietary advice in babies and toddlers. Large clinical trials are needed to show whether removing gluten from the diet in infancy reduces the risk of developing coeliac disease for those with a genetic predisposition.
Reference: Aronsson et al 2019. JAMA. Vol. 322(6) Pp. 514-523. Doi:10.1001/jama.2019.10329
New method for detecting rye gluten
Food companies looking to test their products for gluten have had a long-term problem solved, thanks to the efforts of researchers at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. The CSIRO researchers have recently discovered a way to detect rye gluten meaning there are now methods to detect the different gluten proteins found in all four types of gluten-containing cereals: wheat; barley; oats; and rye.
Having looked at 20 cultivars of rye from 12 countries, the researchers found six proteins that are specific to all rye varieties and that don’t appear in other grains. The LC–MS/MS method was used on a range of different processed food types and the rye gluten proteins could be detected no matter which matrix they were in.
Reference: Pasquali et al. 2019. Journal of Proteome Research. Doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.9b00314.
Simple test for coeliac disease on the horizon
An international study including Australian-based experts has discovered distinct biological markers in the blood of people with coeliac disease. They hope these markers can be used to develop a blood-based diagnostic test for coeliac disease.
With current diagnostic methods requiring several weeks of gluten exposure and an invasive procedure to take a biopsy of the small intestine, a simple blood test would be a significant breakthrough. The test is also likely improve the rates of coeliac disease diagnosis within the community.
Reference: Goel et al. 2019 Science Advances. Vol. 5 (8). Doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7756
Access the publication associated with the discovery.