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Scientists Working Toward Pill for Celiac Disease

24 December, 2012

California: Scientists say they're working on a pill that may one day help people with celiac disease tolerate foods that contain gluten, a protein that is found in wheat and other grains.

"It would be pretty much like the Lactaid pill," says researcher Justin B. Siegel, PhD, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, and chemistry, at the University of California at Davis, referring to a product that helps people who get an upset stomach when they drink or eat dairy foods.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers describe testing a new enzyme called KumaMax that breaks down gluten.

In a test tube, the enzyme -- which was discovered in bacteria that live in Japanese hot springs and modified slightly in the lab -- dismantled more than 95% of a protein component that's thought to trigger celiac disease.

The enzyme hasn't yet been tested in people. Researchers say that's the next step.


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