Thursday, June 6, 2013

A pill to treat celiac disease is no longer a pipe dream

We're moving closer to a pill to treat cd

We all go through stages of transition after a diagnosis of celiac disease.

For most, the first includes lots of confusion, worry and fear that eating will never be the same. Then good health returns and, eventually, we get to the point where we feel we're controlling the disease instead of it controlling us. Mainly that's because we get a handle on the gluten-free diet and once we conquer that we feel like we've largely conquered the disease.

Now, Alice Bast, president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, is pushing us to go one step further. She's urging us to really understand what celiac disease is and how it works.

"For most of us, knowing what to eat, what to avoid and which questions to ask when dining out are enough to get by," Bast says. "Words like "t-cells" and "zonulin" aren't part of our everyday conversation, and they certainly don't help when trying to decode a nutrition label."

The NFCA, a Philadelphia-based patient advocacy group, is hosting a free webinar June 11 to help patients understand how celiac disease works and what role medications to treat it are likely to play in the future.

"It's more critical now than ever to know and understand how celiac disease works," Bast explains. "We are on the cusp of a pharmaceutical revolution in celiac disease treatment. A vaccine or pill is no longer a pipe dream. It's a very real possibility."

The webinar, Celiac Disease: Immunology 101 and the Drug Development Process, will touch on the immunological process of celiac disease as well as the process of drug development and approval.

It will be conducted by Francisco Leon, MD, vice president of immunology translational medicine, and Ken Kilgore, PhD, director of immuno-pharmacology, at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson.

They will review existing research to explain why scientists are looking into the development of a pill or vaccine.*

Bast says it's a chance to learn about things that aren't covered in a typical appointment with your doctor or dietitian.

If you've ever wondered about the role patients play in clinical trials for a drug or the steps needed for Food and Drug Administration approval of one, you should tune in.

You can register here. There's also information on how to listen to the webinar after the fact if you can't do so live.

While not everyone is anxious to take a pill to treat celiac disease, knowledge has always been the most powerful tool in combating its symptoms and long-term consequences.  Expanding your understanding of new issues that will certainly affect how you live your gluten-free life is always a good idea.

So take this opportunity to find out about the science behind celiac disease and the steps that are being take to develop new treatments for it.

Amy Ratner
*This is an update to clarify information previously provided by the NFCA.

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