What’s the news?
Researchers at the School of Medical Sciences, University of Örebro in Sweden, are trying to discover whether popping an enzyme tablet could become a valuable safeguard for coeliacs. The tablet contains a particular enzyme known as AN-PEP. The hope is that if it’s taken while consuming gluten-containing foods, it could block a substantial amount of the gluten from entering the small intestine. Previous studies have been successful in illustrating it’s ability to break down gluten, but this was the first to use proper meals.
Who was tested and how?
18 subjects took part in the experiment. They all ate a bowl of gluten-free porridge with crumbled (NON gluten free) biscuits in. Some were given a high dose of AN-PEP, some a low dose and some a placebo.
What were the results?
The study found the gluten levels in stomach of the high and low AN-PEP dose subjects were 85% lower than in the placebo group, and after reaching the duodenum, were 87% lower in the high dose and 81% lower in the low dose. with the AN-PEP shown to break down the proteins, as expected.
What do we know?
With further research, this could potentially enable gluten-sensitive patients to ingest small amounts of gluten without experiencing symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The AN-PEP enzyme has clearly been shown to aid the breakdown of gluten levels after ingestion, quickly and substantially. Accidental ingestion of gluten is common, so this would at least be a safeguard, which for gluten-sensitive individuals, and potentially even coeliacs, could make a significant difference.
What don’t we know?
This could be great news for gluten-sensitive individuals, but perhaps a tad over-hyped when it comes to coeliacs, as it hasn’t been tested on a single coeliac just yet. Also, the 18 subjects tested in the experiment were all self-reported gluten-sensitive. It’s hard to establish how reliable that could be as self-diagnosis is notoriously inaccurate.
At this point in time, even the researchers do not advise coeliac individuals to get their hopes up at the prospect of an enzyme pill that might magic away or ease the woes from being “glutened”. However, I think this looks pretty promising. Still, at the very least it might eventually become a useful tool for coeliacs to take after meals out, and dinners cooked by others.
Source, and to read more on this research: