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Eur J Intern Med. 2012 Jan;23(1):9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2011.08.030. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

Non-dietary therapeutic clinical trials in coeliac disease.

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Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain.


Coeliac disease is a permanent immunological intolerance to gluten proteins in genetically predisposed individuals. The only management is life-long strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. Unfortunately, compliance with gluten-free diet is very difficult in practice due to the widespread presence of gluten in Western diets. For this reason, about 50% of coeliacs following a gluten-free diet continue to suffer from symptoms and present with autoantibodies and/or villous atrophy while on a gluten-free diet. It is therefore important to explore new therapies to improve the management of coeliac disease. To date, five experimental therapies have been tested in randomized and controlled clinical trials. Larazotide acetate reduces the para-cellular passage of gluten to the lamina propria by preventing the opening of intercellular tight junctions. The endopeptidases ALV003 and AN-PEP break down gluten to produce less or non-toxic peptide fragments. A therapeutic vaccine is being tested with the aim of developing gluten tolerance. Finally, infection with the nematode Necator americanus and treatment with the CCR9 antagonist Traficet-EN have also been reported. While substantial progress has been made in the last few years, it is important to remember that all these investigational therapies are in research stage and are generally being considered as "adjunctive" therapies to the gluten-free diet and not as substitutes of the gluten-free diet at this point in time.

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