A Vaccine Against Coeliac Disease
Coeliac disease is caused by an immune reaction to the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and barley. The auto-immune disease is becoming increasingly prevalent, and is estimated to currently affect 1.4 per cent of the global population.
The Nexvax2 vaccine is based on research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), which identified three peptides in gluten that trigger an immune response in 90 per cent of coeliacs who have the genetic form of the disease.
The results from Phase 1 trials showed that the therapy was safe and well tolerated even at the highest doses used. Now almost 150 patients across the US, Australia and New Zealand will be recruited in the Phase 2 trial to receive injections of placebo or the active treatment, twice a week for four months. They will undergo three food challenges throughout the trial to test for symptomatic relief. Some patients will also have an intestinal biopsy to check for protective effect on gut lining.
According to the researchers, "A successful therapy that can restore normal gluten tolerance would revolutionise coeliac disease management”.