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Celiac Disease Clinical Trials for New Enzyme – Gluten Intolerance Sufferers May be Able to Eat Bread with AN-PEP

June 30th 2006

Celiac Disease Clinical Trials for New Enzyme – Gluten Intolerance Sufferers May be Able to Eat Bread with AN-PEP

Wheat

Researchers believe that the enzyme, prolyl endoprotease, can help celiac disease sufferers digest gluten.  This discovery is important because, unlike earlier attempts at using enzymes, these scientists have found that prolyl endoprotease works well in the stomach’s acidic environment. 

Frits Koning said “On the basis of our results, there now is a realistic chance that oral supplementation with an enzyme can ensure gluten degradation in the stomach before reaching the small intestine, where it causes problems for people with celiac disease.”  Koning is researcher at the Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands, who headed the team that has published a new research paper on its work.

The enzyme, which was originally developed for commercial food processing, works 60 times faster than earlier enzymes which would dissolve in stomach acid.  The new prolyl endoprotease (PEP) that was studied is derived from Aspergillus niger (AN), a common fungus. Strains of A. niger are used in industrial production of citric and gluconic acid as well as producing several food grade enzymes.

 

Since there are no animal models to study celiac disease, the in vivo efficacy of AN-PEP for gluten detoxification will ultimately have to be addressed in clinical studies involving celiac patients. AN-PEP appears to be a prime candidate for such clinical trials.”

“It’s a Caucasian disease with a wide spectrum of symptoms; not all patients are equally affected, but we do not understand why this is the case,” Koning said. “It is known to be associated with the HLA-DQ2 gene.  But while about 25% of the white population has this gene, only about one in 100 get the disease, so it’s really a quite puzzling disease in many ways.”

 

Celiac disease affects about 2 million Americans and is also found in Europe, India and parts of the Middle East. It’s caused by an uncontrolled immune response to wheat gluten and similar proteins of rye and barley that cause diarrhea, malnutrition and failure to thrive because it inhibits nutritional uptake.

 
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