2015 Research Report – University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

Drs. Stefano Guandalini and Bana Jabri

Drs. Stefano Guandalini and Bana Jabri

The Celiac Scene is very pleased to share the Year End Research Report provided by Dr. Stefano Guandalini and Dr. Bana Jabri of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center 2015. “With your help, we’ll accomplish our goals in 2016 and remain at the forefront of celiac disease research.” Please help contribute to a cure today.

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center’s vision is defined by its goal to prevent and cure celiac disease. To tackle celiac disease, Dr. Jabri has developed a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach in close collaboration with her clinical colleagues Drs. Guandalini, Semrad and Kupfer, and prominent research groups across the world and across disciplines. This report gives a summary of the progress made in the past year and of ongoing studies.

Determining the Role of Viral Infections in Celiac Disease

The prevalence of celiac disease continues to rise, suggesting that environmental factors must trigger and precipitate disease. For a long time it was suspected that viruses may play a role in celiac disease, and more generally in autoimmunity. Thanks to generous donations, we were able to initiate studies and gather preliminary data that have allowed us to obtain NIH funding to study the role of intestinal viruses in celiac disease pathogenesis. These studies will determine whether viruses can induce loss of oral tolerance to gluten. If confirmed, it will support development of vaccines, in particular for children who have a high risk for celiac disease.

Developing Relevant Mouse Models for Celiac Disease

These models allow us to establish cause-effect relationships, and to validate new therapeutic avenues. We are currently testing promising inhibitors of tissue transglutaminase-2, in a preclinical mouse model of celiac disease generated in our laboratory. These pharmacological inhibitors were developed by our collaborator, Dr. Chaitan Khosla, an internationally renowned chemist at Stanford University who has made important contributions to the field of celiac disease. These studies will provide the scientific basis to move inhibitors of tissue transglutaminase-2 to clinical trials.

Technology to Set Up Mini-Gut Models from Individuals with Celiac Disease

These “test tube mini-guts” retain the genetic characteristics of the individual from whom they came. This is part of our general effort to understand the heterogeneity of celiac disease and move towards developing personalized medicine for patients with celiac disease.

Clinical Trial in Celiac Disease Patients Refractory to the Gluten-Free Diet

There is currently no effective treatment for refractory celiac disease. Based on encouraging results, we are continuing to enroll patients with refractory celiac disease in a clinical trial testing the efficacy of a drug blocking the cytokine IL-15, which we have identified as playing a critical role in celiac disease. This trial is sponsored by NIH and conducted in collaboration with Professor Waldmann (NIH/NCI) and Professor Murray (Mayo Clinic)

Efficacy of the Gluten-Free Diet in Resolving Extra-Intestinal Manifestation of Celiac Disease.

While it is well known that celiac patients with gastrointestinal issues typically respond soon to the GFD, there is little information on how effective the diet can be on symptoms such as headaches, short stature, anemia, and other non-gastrointestinal problems. Our investigation on almost 500 patients has shown in preliminary data that most symptoms improve with time, but children respond more promptly and completely than adults.

We thank our celiac disease patients and their families for their enthusiasm, their trust and their ongoing support. Their commitment has played a major role in putting the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center at the forefront of research in celiac disease.

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University of Chicago Celiac Disease CenterThe University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is dedicated to improving the lives of people with celiac disease through awareness, education, and research. Our work is entirely funded by private donations. Growing and sustaining our much-needed programs and services require us to raise $1 million a year.

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