Coeliac Australia appeal to raise $570,000 for coeliac disease research
Coeliac Australia and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have formed a three-year, $570,000 partnership to support critical research required for new treatments and diagnostic tests for coeliac disease.
Funded by an ongoing Coeliac Australia appeal, the partnership aims to develop better treatments for children with coeliac disease, effective treatments following accidental gluten consumption, and a diagnostic test for people already following a gluten-free diet.
Coeliac Australia president Mr Hugh Sheardown praised the research efforts of Dr Bob Anderson and Dr Jason Tye-Din, who lead the coeliac disease research team at the institute.
“The research being undertaken is critical to unlocking a greater understanding of coeliac disease, particularly in the under-researched area of children,” Mr Sheardown said. “This is the largest research funding project Coeliac Australia has ever undertaken, and we are very happy to partner with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of this disease.”
Coeliac disease affects more than one per cent of the population and is caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten. Currently, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment, but is expensive and often difficult to follow. Without treatment, patients with coeliac disease have an increased risk of other immune diseases, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.
Dr Anderson and Dr Tye-Din’s research at the institute has already led to the development of a potential vaccine for coeliac disease, Nexvax2®, which is in clinical trials.
Dr Tye-Din, from the institute’s Immunology division, said that the Coeliac Australia appeal will support a number of vital research projects to improve the diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease. “The development of coeliac disease in children is poorly understood,” Dr Tye-Din said. “A major focus is understanding the immune response that causes disease in young people, in the hope of developing a treatment for children similar to Nexvax2®.”
“We will also be looking for more effective treatments to prevent or control the acute ‘food poisoning’ that people with coeliac disease experience following accidental gluten consumption, as well new therapies and diagnostic tests for people with less common genetic versions of the disease,” he said.
Institute director Professor Doug Hilton said the research partnership could result in a significantly improved understanding of coeliac disease. “Coeliac Australia is playing a critical role in supporting the basic research required for new treatments and diagnostic tests for coeliac disease,” Professor Hilton said.
Dr Tye-Din said he appreciated Coeliac Australia’s support of the institute’s coeliac disease research program and the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of patients.
“Coeliac Australia’s support of the institute’s research is very exciting,” Dr Tye-Din said. “As a coeliac disease clinician, I am constantly reminded of the daily challenges my patients face, be it the ill health resulting from years of undiagnosed disease, struggling with the complexity and cost imposed by a strict and lifelong gluten-free diet, or the fear of inadvertent gluten exposure and often incapacitating symptoms that can result. We are thrilled and very grateful for the opportunity to translate these research projects into meaningful outcomes for people with coeliac disease.”
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