Coeliac vaccine a step nearer

Speaking at a recent Coeliac UK conference Dr Bob Anderson from the Autoimmunity and Transplantation Division of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia described how he and his team have identified the toxic elements of gluten creating the potential for a vaccine therapy to suppress or prevent gluten toxicity. The research indicates that there are only a few dominant peptides in the gluten protein that trigger the autoimmune response in people with coeliac disease which makes the creation of a vaccine easier.

Dr Anderson, who is joint founder and CEO of Nexpep Pty Ltd, the company developing the coeliac vaccine, says that they have developed a peptide-based therapeutic vaccine based on the dominant problem T-cell epitopes of gluten. The vaccine has the potential to treat about 80% of people with the disease and having the appropriate genetic background.

In common with traditional desensitisation therapy for allergy, peptide-based therapeutic vaccines administered in many small doses over a course of injections could induce immune tolerance not only to the selected gluten fragments but also suppress the toxicity of other toxic gluten components.
Nexpep is currently raising capital for a clinical trial program for a peptide-based therapeutic vaccine and intends to commence a Phase 1 clinical trial in the first half of 2009.

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