Can We Eat Gluten Again? The Celiac Wonder Drug – AVL003.

Even if you don’t really know what celiac disease or gluten intolerance is, you know the treatment. Everyone knows at least that one person who says, “oh, I can’t eat that. I have… (fill in the blank) “ celiac, gluten intolerance, I’m trying to be gluten free for health reasons… et cetera. The treatment for these things is incredibly socially constraining and culturally limiting – you can’t eat gluten. It’s Seinfeld’s soup nazi becoming the gluten nazi in your body screaming “No gluten for you!” No bread, no soy sauce, no barley, no beer, no alcohols made from grain unless well distilled, no Starbucks Frappuccino Lights… on and on it goes.

While the last few years have spawned a greater awareness of issues with gluten and created a whole new range of gluten free foods, we still do not have any real “treatment” other than abstinence. We all know how well that has been working for the some of the schools out there with sex ed. Maybe that doesn’t really apply here but seriously – some of us may try to cheat on the diet and we pay for it. Or some of us are OK with paying for it. Personally, I can do without the brain fog…

But AVL003 is trying to change the game. Here’s a drug in study trials attempting to break the rules as we know them. Bought by AbbVie in 2013 and created by Alvine Pharmaceuticals, AVL003 is a drug that combines two recombinant protease enzymes to inhibit the inflammation produced by gluten floating down and around in the gut and is aiming to reduce tummy injury in the process (as cited by FierceBioTech). Their Phase IIa results DID actually show that there was decreased intestinal inflammation in celiacs. In their June 2014 trial, they had 34 celiacs eat 2 grams of gluten every day for six weeks. Half of the group got this celiac wonder drug and the drug managed block the damage in the stomach during the six week period.

Part of me wonders what the compensation was for that study. I’m not sure you could have paid me enough to take 2 full grams of gluten if I get squeamish with 20ppm. To put that into perspective, 20ppm (the FDA’s gluten free label guideline requirements now) is 0.01997718 of a gram. I’m shuddering at the thought. Though, they say the average gluten containing diet is 10 to 50 grams per day and for that, we’re barely scratching the surface.

This isn’t the only research currently going on in investigation of letting celiacs eat gluten. (More Research Here) I have mixed emotions on the whole thing. The link was shared on my Facebook wall about the drug in a, “look! Your last two years have led you to waiting for this moment!” But I don’t know. After over two years on a gluten free diet, I’m used to it. It doesn’t suck any less but I don’t wake up and think to myself, “My life is less full because I can’t eat a gluten filled bagel for breakfast.” The drugs in development all still require a gluten free lifestyle. They aren’t permanent fixes. The only time I could see myself using them is in high risk situations… but really, you get to a point where if you engage in the high risk situation, you have resigned yourself to being okay with the consequences. I’m not sure I could do it. Before or after drug.

What are your thoughts on this wonder drug? Is it going to be worth it?

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