Sufferers of coeliac disease are one step closer to a possible cure, according to the latest research

An international team of researchers at Melbourne’s Monash University have discovered the ‘trigger point’ of coeliac disease.

According to Coeliac Australia the disease affects 1 in 70 Australians with approximately 330,000 (80 percent) of cases undiagnosed at this point. Monash University researcher Dr Hugh Reid says the disease is caused by the wheat protein gliadin found in gluten.

“In coeliac patients, they have an inappropriate immune response against a component of wheat, barley, rye and oats, called gluten and associated proteins, which leads to an inflammatory response in the small intestine and causes a number of unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, gas as well as even constipation,” he says. “So the reason for this is that the proteins that are ingested and digested in the small intestine form these small parts of the protein called peptides and in celiac patients these peptides are processed in the body to become more sticky.”

Reid says the stickiness causes the peptide to become attached to a protein inherited by coeliac sufferers. The merging of the two then causes the immune system to see it as a foreign substance which triggers the inflammatory response. There have been ongoing vaccine trials but Reid is hopeful that this breakthrough will allow them to investigate other therapies that could provide a cure but stresses this will take time.