Can we deactivate celiac disease?

It’s a strange question to ask, I know, but new research suggests the possibility exists. Scientists at Stanford University have set out to prove that blocking the enzyme transglutaminase 2 (TG2) can create a switch to essentially “turn off” or deactivate celiac.

Celiac is a genetic autoimmune disease that affects roughly 1 percent of the population. People with the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 gene are genetically predisposed to develop the condition. Once such a person ingests gluten, celiac can be unlocked at any time. And once it is unlocked, the symptoms start, and there is no going back.

There currently is no cure for celiac. Once diagnosed, the only treatment is following a strict and lifelong gluten-free diet to keep symptoms at bay. However, the Stanford University scientists believe that a poor understanding of TG2 may be the reason there is no cure—yet.

A malfunctioning TG2 enzyme causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine. This mistaken immune response leads to a host of issues as the body attempts to rid itself of what it considers a poison—gluten.

Stanford University professor Chaitan Khosla and his team have already discovered how to activate TG2, and now they are releasing their findings on how to deactivate it. Deactivate celiac disease—can you imagine?!

Say hello to the ERp57 enzyme, the solution to deactivating TG2—and, possibly, celiac. Medical News Today reports that “…the research team is looking into existing drugs that may be able to target this newly discovered switch.” That’s right—an actual cure that stops the immune response in celiac patients for good may be in the works.

How exciting.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.

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