Scientists have used a three GeV synchrotron radiation facility to visualize an interaction between gluten and T-cells in the human immune system, providing insight into how celiac disease is triggered. And it will lead to a vaccine, they believe.
An increasingly diagnosed chronic inflammatory disorder, celiac disease affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, their immune system triggers T-cells to fight the offending proteins, which damages the small intestine and inhibits absorption of important nutrients into the body. There are no treatments, apart from making sure to eat no foods with gluten.
About half the population is genetically susceptible to celiac disease because they carry the immune response genes HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. One in 20 people who carry HLA-DQ2 and about one in 150 who have HLA-DQ8 may develop celiac disease, but people with other versions of the HLA-DQ genes will not.
The researchers used the Australian Synchrotron to visually determine how T-cells of the immune system interact with gluten. Unlike an accelerator such as the LHC, the Australian Synchroton is a light source rather than a collider, making it ideal for the new study. The end goal of the project is to produce a treatment which allows celiac sufferers to resume a normal diet.
Knowing which genes were likely to be risk factors but now what variables determined celiac disease led researchers Drs. Hugh Reid and Professor Jamie Rossjohn of Monash University, Professor Frits Koning of the University of Leiden and Dr. Bob Anderson of biotechnology company ImmusanT Inc., to examine how the immune system senses gluten. They believe they have found an important breakthrough.
"This is the first time that the intricacies of the interaction between gluten and two proteins that initiate immune responses have been visualised at a sub-molecular level," Reid said.
ImmusanT is developing a blood test and a therapeutic vaccine, Nexvax2®, for patients with celiac disease who carry the gene HLA-DQ2. It is intended to restore immune tolerance for gluten and thus allow patients to again include gluten in their diet. Future studies will investigate whether T-cell activation by gluten in patients with HLA-DQ2 follows similar principles as observed in this study that focused on HLA DQ8 mediated celiac disease.
Anderson, Chief Scientific Officer at ImmusanT, says the research presents a unique opportunity.
"Because we now know the gluten peptides responsible for coeliac disease, we can interrogate the molecular events leading to a self-destructive immune response."
Research published in Immunity
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- The Enemy Of Archaeology Is Not People, It's Salt
- Science Graduates Are Not Good At Math – But Why?
- The Glaciers Of Mars
- The Origin Of Neptune And Uranus
- Nordic Seas Saline - It's The Gulfsream, Not The Melting Arctic
- Donate To Sense About Science!
- Depression Surveys Linked To Unnecessary Antidepressant Prescriptions
- "I appreciate the article, but I would have preferred a less overstated title. Yes, salt is an issue..."
- "Yep, lots of 'feel' to it. I rate that over technical playing, but acknowledge that a combination..."
- "Currently I'm plasticising my brain at the gym - training myself to correct my posture before I..."
- "I find it very strange that most studies about epigenetic effects are about stress, hardship and..."
- "30% of bats are also fruit, seed and flower nectar eaters, so they also probably have good reason..."
- High-dose vitamin D for ICU patients who are vitamin D deficient does not improve outcomes
- New study finds university health schools' use of holistic admissions has positive impact
- Gut bacteria promote obesity in mice
- Endoscopists recommend frequent colonoscopies, leading to its overuse
- Chinese scientists unveil liquid phase 3-D printing method using low melting metal alloy ink