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Coeliac Australia is committed to improving diagnosis rates and to funding innovative, world-class research into the prevention, diagnosis, management and cure or other ethical forms of treatment for coeliac disease. Continuing research is vital if improvements in lifestyle and treatments for people with coeliac disease are to occur.
As part of their commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone with coeliac disease, Coeliac Australia entered into a three year, $570,000 research partnership with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in 2011, and hopes this year’s appeal will raise the $200,000 required to fund year 2 goals.
In the first year, several major research projects designed to improve outcomes for patients with coeliac disease, both children and adults, have made excellent progress thanks to the generous donations of so many supporters.
The research is being undertaken by the Coeliac Research Team established by Dr Bob Anderson and Dr Jason Tye-Din at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australian researchers who are world-leaders in the field.
Dr Tye-Din explains what the research is about and how it might benefit patients with coeliac disease.
“It has been only through managing patients with coeliac disease that I’ve learnt to appreciate the many challenges faced by patients - problems linked to the suboptimal and often delayed diagnosis of coeliac disease, the heavy burden of illness caused by symptoms, and the struggles of following a lifelong gluten free diet. Excitingly, our Coeliac Research Team, through the support of Coeliac Australia, is in a great position to work on solutions to many of these issues. Here are the suite of projects we have been working on:
Why do some people with coeliac disease become so sick after consuming gluten? How can we prevent this? For some, traces of gluten can lead to hours or even days of abdominal upset, headaches, lethargy and a range of unpleasant symptoms. This impacts substantially on quality of life. By studying the mechanisms for why people get symptoms, we aim to develop approaches to prevent or treat these potentially incapacitating symptoms.
Another major aspect of this research program is aimed at children with coeliac disease. Children with coeliac disease often present with a different range of symptoms to adults, and respond to the gluten free diet at a different rate. Why is this? As most research into understanding why gluten is toxic to the immune system has been in adults, very little is known about how responses in children differs. This study will focus on children aged between 3 and 18 in the hope we can understand these differences, and have a rational basis to develop better tests and treatments.
Our third project is to improve the diagnosis of coeliac disease. One particular shortcoming of current diagnostic tests is they depend on people consuming gluten. Nowadays, so many people remove gluten from their diet which makes testing for coeliac disease unreliable. To establish a definitive diagnosis, a 6-week gluten challenge followed by biopsy is required, but many people struggle with unpleasant symptoms. We are refining a diagnostic based on a 3-day gluten challenge followed by a blood test to make the diagnosis of coeliac disease without the need for a 6-week gluten challenge or biopsy.
I am so grateful for the support of Coeliac Australia and its members. Funding to date has contributed to a dedicated coeliac research nurse, a research assistant and several laboratory items essential to undertake this work. I truly believe our research is world-leading and has the potential to provide real breakthroughs for patients with coeliac disease. Your donation will really help this research to continue. Thank you.”
Coeliac Australia President, Hugh Sheardown said, “these Australian based research projects have my strongest endorsement and I will be supporting this appeal believing in the significant benefits to be derived for patients with coeliac disease. Please be assured that 100% of the funds contributed to this appeal will go directly to this coeliac research at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.”
We invite you to make a donation towards this vital research. Your donation will make a world of difference and donations are tax deductible.
Donate online now or phone 1300 990 273 to make a donation.
Helpline: 1300 458 836