People who suffer with gluten intolerance or coeliac disease now have access to a pre-meal tablet to protect against uncomfortable side effects, following successful clinical trials in Melbourne.
The tablet, containing an enzyme from the papaya fruit, is also showing promising signs as a protestant for people with coeliac disease to use when they don’t know the quality of food they’re about to eat, or when they have continued symptoms despite following a gluten-free diet.
Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Head of Colorectal Medicine and Genetics, Professor Finlay Macrae has been involved in three clinical trials testing the enzyme in coeliac patients in Victoria and overseas, with one trial still underway.
The trial showed the tablet could protect against damage to the gut lining in coeliac patients who digested gluten, and it could improve chronic skin conditions which are a common side effect of the inflammatory disease.
The Australian biopharmaceutical company Glutage is marketing the tablet to the 10 per cent of Australian adults who limit or avoid consumption of wheat-based foods to prevent gastrointestinal upset, fatigue and tiredness.
But Prof Macrae said while there was no intention for it to replace a gluten-free diet, the tablet appeared to protect against the two types of injury in coeliac disease.
“There is the direct toxic effect from the gluten as it injures the lining of the small bowel. Then once that lining is damaged it allows the components of the gluten molecule to get inside the lining of the gut and it induces an immune attack from your own body,” Prof Macrae said.
“The components of gluten that cause those two different effects are slightly different parts of the gluten molecule, and this enzyme seems to target both.”
Glutagen executive director Dr Ted Stelmasiak said the tablet, which targeted the breakdown of gluten, was the culmination of “several decades” of testing including at Melbourne’s Bio 21 Institute.
“Gluten sensitivity is not a fad … it isn’t just a lifestyle choice,” Dr Stelmasiak said.
“For the first time a natural, plant-paced enzyme can help make a positive difference in the lives of those with gluten-related digestion issues.”
Source: Herald Sun.