Coeliac Australia
Home / research / Hidden Enemy your spoon

The hidden enemy on your spoon

Can some common gluten-free foods behave like gluten?

Investigators: Prof Michelle Colgrave (Edith Cowan Uni), Dr Angéla Juhász (Edith Cowan Uni), Assoc. Prof Jason Tye-Din (WEHI)

The gluten free diet (the exclusion of wheat, rye, barley and oats) is well established as a successful treatment for coeliac disease A major problem for some people with CD is the occurrence of ongoing unpleasant symptoms or small bowel damage even though they are strict with their GFD. There are many explanations for why the GFD ‘fails’; this project is investigating the possibility that some supposedly GF foods might “mimic” gluten, causing symptoms and/or inflammation in some people with coeliac disease. This concept currently remains unproven.

The project will apply sophisticated methods to determine whether a range of grain sources have this gluten-like potential. By feeding the potential culprits to people with coeliac disease we can determine if this observation is relevant to patients.

The project brings together complementary expertise across three major and highly regarded research institutions in Australia. We will investigate proteins in foods for potentially “CD toxic” regions using a combination of mass spectrometry for experimental identification and computational approaches for theoretical epitope screening. We will assess the ability of these proteins to stimulate immune responses in the test tube and in people with CD (“T cell studies” with and without food challenges).

The results will inform treatment options for certain patients, with an aim of improved patient health, improved quality of life and mitigation of the risks of developing complications such as lymphoma.

In the mean-time, it is important to discuss any ongoing symptoms or health concerns with your doctor. Information about the recommended follow up and monitoring of your coeliac disease can be found here