Bring on the bread! Scientists have developed a cheap pill that allows celiacs to eat gluten foods without the pain
For people who suffer from Celiac disease, the dream of enjoying mainstream birthday cake, beer, and bread baskets may soon be as simple as popping a pill. Canadian scientists say they've developed a medication that will help people digest gluten-rich foods without the stomach pain, headaches, and diarrhea typically associated with the disorder. (We're talking about true celiacs, though, not these Gluten-Free Eaters Who Don't Know What Gluten Is.)
"My friend is celiac. We haven't had any entertaining with beers. So that's why I develop this pill, for my friend," said Hoon Sunwoo, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Alberta who spent a decade developing the new medication (officially making him the best friend ever).
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which gliadin, a component of the grain protein gluten, attacks the small intestine, causing permanent damage to the digestive system, which can lead to lifelong pain and nutritional deficiencies unless bread and other gluten-containing products are strictly avoided. This new pill works by coating gliadin in egg yolk so it can pass through the body unrecognized.
"This supplement binds with gluten in the stomach and help to neutralize it, therefore providing defense to the small intestine, limiting the damage gliadin causes," Sunwoo said. Sufferers would simply swallow the pill—which he says will be available over the counter and be priced affordably—five minutes before eating or drinking and then they'd have one or two hours of protection to go gluten crazy.
But, he added, the pill can't cure Celiac disease, and patients would still have to avoid gluten most of the time. It's unknown if it will provide relief for people who think they have a gluten sensitivity. Rather, he said, it's just meant to provide sufferers with more options for managing their illness. The pill is scheduled to start drug trials next year. Until then, celiacs don't have to be completely deprived—they can enjoy these 12 Gluten-Free Beers That Really Do Taste Great and whip up 10 Gluten-Free Breakfast Recipes.