Gluten-intolerance pill could help coeliacs eat pizza and drink beer

17 Jul 2015

Gluten intolerance could be a thing of the past thanks to a newly-developed pill that uses the power of egg yolks to coat food that contains gluten, allowing the coeliac sufferer to avoid the compound that is harmful to them.

Developed at the University of Alberta in Canada by Prof Hoon Sunwoo and his colleague Jeong Sim, the pill has been developed from a natural solution that harvests the yolks from chicken eggs that prevent the absorption of the harmful gluten component, gliadin.

“This supplement binds with gluten in the stomach and helps to neutralise it, therefore providing defence to the small intestine, limiting the damage gliadin causes,” Sunwoo said of the discovery. “It is our hope that this supplement will improve the quality of life for those who have coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.”

Coeliac disease is particularly prevalent in northern European countries where estimates put the number of people who have the disease at one in every 200, and perhaps even a higher figure in Ireland.

However, despite its apparent increase among the population, the only known effective treatment has been to live on a strict gluten-free diet, which rules out popular foods like pizza and beer.

Prof Sunwoo said that following the very promising findings of their creation, the next step will be to run an efficacy trial within the next year, with a commercial release perhaps within the next three years, with the team having already partnered with a pharmaceutical company.

“This collaboration gives us the opportunity to change the lives of those suffering with a debilitating autoimmune condition,” said Vetanda Group communications director, Claire Perry. “Our groundbreaking new health product has the potential to offer more dietary freedom and, overall, a much better quality of life for gluten-intolerant individuals.”

Gluten free bread image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic