As your family dentist in Eugene, we can sympathize with patients who suffer from celiac disease. The disease can make it incredibly challenging for many patients to lead a fulfilling lifestyle without having to go to great lengths monitoring everything they eat or drink. Fortunately, relief may be on the way.
Researchers believe they have successfully isolated an enzyme from bacteria found in human saliva that may possess the potential for treating celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes severe digestive and other health problems for individuals with the disease whenever they consume gluten. It’s estimated that 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease. Currently, the primary treatment for the disease is for patients to stick to a gluten-free diet.
The results of this study were published in the American Journal of Physiology.
A New Tool In The Fight Against Celiac Disease
Gluten rich proteins found in rye, barley and wheat contain the immunogenic sequences that cause the symptoms associated with celiac disease, according to researchers. In other words, the immune response in the small intestine becomes overactive when individuals with the disease eat gluten.
Many individuals, however, find it increasingly difficult to stick to a 100 percent gluten-free diet largely due to gluten’s common presence in most type of refined foods. The search for new and improved celiac disease treatments have recently focused on methods that target the peptides in gluten that cause the immune system to overreact. This includes vaccine-based strategies and the use of enzymes that break gluten and its immune disrupting properties down before the gluten can reach the small intestine.
Led by researchers from Boston University’s Henry M. Golden School of Dental Medicine, researchers set out to identify and isolate the enzymes and evaluate their potential for treating the disease. Based on the results of their study, researchers found that a significantly high number of gluten-degrading enzyme potential exists in bacteria that naturally develops in the mouth.
Found in human saliva, Rothia bacteria can break gluten compounds down that cause the exaggerated immune response and are typically resistant to the digestive enzymes that mammals produce. Researchers were able to isolate a new class of enzymes from Rothia bacteria.
The newly identified Rothia enzymes belong to the same class as food-grade Bacillus enzymes, which is both food-safe and commonly consumed in Japan as part of a fermented soy bean dish, according to researchers. Researchers note that the widespread consumption of Bacillus enzymes have not appeared in negative side effects among the Japanese population, which promises to open new avenues for the therapeutic potential of these enzymes in treating celiac disease.
In conclusion of their study, researchers noted, “Going forward, since gluten-degrading enzymes are the preferred therapy of choice for celiac disease, and given the exceptional activity of the subtilisins and their associations with natural human microbial colonizer, they are worthy of further exploration for clinical applications in CD and potentially other gluten-intolerance disorders.”