Three researchers have received more than $500,000 from the Celiac Disease Foundation including doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital, Columbia University and the University of Chicago.
Valerie Abadie, PhD of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, is the most recent recipient for her promising celiac research. Abadie is one of three researchers who earned the foundation’s 2019 Young Investigator Research Grant Award and was given $180,000.
The first two recipients are Jocelyn Silvester, MD, PhD of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School who was awarded $180,000 and Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University who was awarded $145,650.
For her research, Dr. Abadie will be employing specially developed mouse models that mimic celiac disease to learn if blocking B cells can mitigate or prevent damage to the intestinal villi when someone with celiac disease ingests gluten.
Kristin Yarema, PhD, a member of the Celiac Disease Foundation’s board of directors and a vice president at Amgen, explained the research’s importance.
“We already have medicines that can ablate B cells that will soon be relatively inexpensive generics (anti-CD20 medications),” said Yarema.“If Dr. Abadie’s work demonstrates that B cells are a primary mediator, we could probably interest someone relatively quickly in doing clinical studies. Given that the medications are already approved by the FDA, timelines are vastly shorter and de-risked. I see this proposal as most directly/quickly leading to potential effective treatments for celiac disease.”