The goal of the Institute’s coeliac disease research team is to improve the health of people with coeliac disease by improving the disease’s diagnosis and treatment.
Our researchers are:
Our coeliac disease research includes clinical studies that are open to members of the public.
Our immunology and inflammation researchers are also deciphering the basic mechanisms of why immune cells react to gluten, a usually harmless protein. This is revealing new strategies for switching harmful immune responses off. In the long term, this could contribute to better treatments for coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition caused by gluten, a food protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Coeliac disease often causes digestive symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. It can also cause anaemia, low iron levels and excessive tiredness. It is also associated with osteoporosis, other autoimmune disease, infection and some types of cancer.
Our research has revealed that 1 in 60 women and 1 in 80 men in Australia have coeliac disease but 80 per cent remain undiagnosed.
Both genetic and environmental factors are important for coeliac disease to develop. More than half of the Australian population has the main coeliac risk genes HLA-DQ2 and/or HLA-DQ8.
It is not understood why only some genetically susceptible people develop coeliac disease but a range of environmental factors is likely to be important.
Treatment of coeliac disease involves a strict and lifelong gluten-free diet. This is a challenging and costly treatment that has a significant impact on people’s lifestyles. Even on a gluten-free diet, people with coeliac disease may still experience the condition’s short-term symptoms and long-term complications.
Coeliac Australia provides information and support for people with coeliac disease.