New Hope for Those With Celiac Disease

July 9, 2015 – Edmonton, AB – A natural health product to alleviate the symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease is one step closer, thanks to an agreement between TEC Edmonton, The University of Alberta, IGY Inc. and Vetanda Group Ltd.

Researchers from the University of Alberta and IGY Incorporated have been developing immune powered eggs. For baby chicks to fight off diseases, mother hens produce natural antibodies known as immunoglobulin yolk. For more than 10 years, Dr. Hoon Sunwoo (Associate Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences) and Dr. Jeong Sim (retired Professor, Faculty of Agriculture), have studied how immunoglobulin yolk in eggs could be modulated to detect and neutralize harmful agents in humans.

In collaboration with IGY, the University of Alberta researchers developed egg yolk antibodies targeted at wheat proteins. Anti-gluten immunoglobulin yolk antibodies bind to problematic wheat proteins, rendering them harmless to those with celiac disease.

Through years of research and development, IGY Incorporated has developed a food supplement to relieve symptoms of gluten intolerance. Parts of this research have been supported by grants provided by Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education.

Vetanda Group Limited, based in England, has invested more than $2.5 million to further this research. Through TEC Edmonton, Vetanda has acquired the Intellectual Property (IP) and the exclusive license from the University of Alberta and IGY Inc.

A Canadian human safety trial has now been completed. An efficacy trial is underway to test the natural health product’s ability to reduce gluten-intolerance and possibly eliminate celiac disease symptoms in those following a gluten-free diet.

“It is important to move research from being merely an academic exercise to something that will better the lives of Albertans. The partnership between the University of Alberta and private industry demonstrates the strength of these relationships,” said Gary Villetard, President of IGY Incorporated. “This is the first of many products we hope to develop for Vetanda to take to market.”

“The University of Alberta is home to world class researchers in the fields of immunology, biotechnology and food science,” said Jay Kumar, Vice President of Technology Management at TEC Edmonton. “The investment by Vetanda, based in England, demonstrates that the world is watching.”

“This collaboration gives us the opportunity to change the lives of those suffering with a debilitating auto-immune condition,” says Vetanda Group Communications Director Claire Perry. “Our ground breaking new health product has the potential to offer more dietary freedom and, overall, a much better quality of life for gluten-intolerant individuals. The product could be available to celiac-suffers in Canada within three years, paving the way for testing and product approval in the United States and Europe.”

Studies suggest that one to three per cent of the world’s population has some form of gluten intolerance.

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