Most press releases I get (sometimes over a hundred a day) are pretty dull, but a recent one from research and consulting firm GlobalData piqued my interest enough to survive the DEL key treatment.
It confirmed that two coeliac drugs are expected to enter the European market in early 2019 and early 2020 respectively (each a year earlier in the US).
Larazotide acetate will be the first. Developed by Alba Therapeutics, founded by internationally renowned coeliac voice Dr Alessio Fasano – author of the brilliant Gluten Freedom – it works by making the gut less ‘leaky’ to gluten peptide molecules. It is not expected to allow deviation from a gluten-free diet, but to act as a complement to it – to help prevent the effects of accidental cross-contamination when eating out, or offering protection against the low-level gluten ingestion coeliacs almost invariably live with.
The second is latiglutenase – ALV003 by Alvine Pharmaceuticals – an enzyme rather than a drug, per se, and one devised to break down gluten proteins into harmless fractions in the small intestine. Research has shown that enzymes are the preferred form of treatment for coeliacs.
The two could, potentially, act complementarily.
GlobalData analysts predict the launches of the two treatments could see a market value of $550 million by 2023 ….
Thoughts? I find these (and the many other) treatments in development revolutionary – often the science is cutting edge – but I perhaps have reservations concerning the monies involved, and how these treatments are eventually marketed to coeliacs. They seem to me to be more of a security blanket than a necessity, and eventually I’d like to think we’ll have reduced cross-contamination incidents in restaurants and in foods thanks to better awareness, the upcoming new labelling legislation, and perhaps more sensitive allergen detection tests – but perhaps that will never be completely satisfactorily achieved. They may be useful when travelling to coeliac-unaware countries, too, I guess.
I know some coeliacs are deeply against the idea of drugs for a disease which has an effective treatment already – the gluten-free diet – but the research being done could have implications for other diseases and autoimmune conditions, so – with my usual disclaimer here that I am not speaking as a coeliac – I’m excited by this research, and that it is moving forward, and that the timeframes are now on the horizon.
Despite the dissenting voices, I know there are many coeliacs out there who do want additional and complementary treatments to the GFD … Are you among them? Or are you dead against drugs? Or vaccines, which is another option being looked at?