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Med J Aust 2019; 211 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50328
Published online: 2 September 2019

Researchers, including Associate Professor Jason Tye‐Din at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, have found distinct markers in the blood of people with coeliac disease that are detectable within a few hours of consuming gluten. The findings, published in Science Advances, cast light upon the long‐standing mystery of what drives the adverse reaction to gluten in coeliac disease, and could lead to the first blood test for diagnosing the disorder. A blood test would be a major improvement on the current approach, which requires people to consume gluten for weeks or even months before undergoing an invasive procedure to sample their small intestine. Researchers discovered the immune markers while assessing patient blood samples during a phase 1 trial of Nexvax2, a potential vaccine for people with coeliac disease. In patients injected with gluten peptides, gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly nausea and vomiting, were correlated with higher levels of interleukin (IL)‐2 in their blood. Subsequent testing found that consuming gluten elicited the same IL‐2 response in people with coeliac disease. Ms Michelle Laforest, CEO of Coeliac Australia, said the finding would be welcome news. “The potential for a one‐off gluten challenge and blood test could make a significant difference to many thousands of Australians who report sensitivity to gluten but have been unable to tolerate the current testing approach.”



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