Getting Back at Celiac: Enzyme treatment might stem wheat intolerance | Science News

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Getting Back at Celiac: Enzyme treatment might stem wheat intolerance

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6:21pm, June 28, 2006

A combination of two enzymes could eventually treat celiac disease, an inherited digestive disorder that affects about 1 percent of people worldwide.

People with this condition, also known as celiac sprue, can't tolerate gluten, a protein present in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. When celiac patients ingest the protein, it sets off an immune response that inflames the small intestine and leads to weight loss, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

Currently, the only effective therapy for celiac disease is for patients to exclude gluten-containing foods from their diets. However, since the protein lurks in many nongrain foods, people can have a hard time completely eliminating dietary gluten. "If you wanted to buy a soup or any yogurt or some kind of product that didn't overtly have bread or pasta ... chances are it still contains gluten," says Chaitan Khosla of Stanford University.

Seeking an alternative approach, Khosla and his colleagues looked to an enzyme deri

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