New enzyme degrades gluten

26 07 2006

SprueGood news for celiac disease patients, a new enzyme originally developed for commercial food processing turns out to also quickly and nearly-completely break down whole gluten molecules that cause sprue.

Celiac disease, or sprue, is a digestive disease caused by an uncontrolled immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye or barley. It causes diarrhea, malnutrition and failure to thrive because it inhibits nutritional uptake. There is no current effective treatment other than avoiding all kind of grain products, except corn and rice.

The new enzyme, called prolyl endoprotease (PEP) is derived from Aspergillus niger, a common fungus. PEP works best in the kind of physiological environment found in the human stomach, effectively digesting gluten.

Researchers think that now “there is a realistic chance that oral supplementation with an enzyme can ensure gluten degradation in the stomach before reaching the small intestine, where it causes problems for people with celiac disease”. Clinical trials with patients are the next step to prove the efficacy of this new enzyme.

The study titled “Highly efficient gluten degradation with a newly identified prolyl endoprotease: implications for celiac disease“, has been published in the American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

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3 responses

3 08 2006
eileen shoosmith

Please can you tell me if and when PEP enzyme for gluten/coeliac disease is available
Thank you

3 08 2006
eileen shoosmith

I would like to try PEP. I have a Gluten intolerance

4 08 2006

Hi eileen

As you can see in the post, clinical trials to test the enzyme didn’t start yet. Researchers have to test the efficacy and safety of the enzyme in groups of humans, before it can be normally used in patients.
So, I guess you will have to wait a few years. In the meantime the best you can do is to stick to your gluten-free diet. Sorry.

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