Egg yolk extract could allow people with celiac disease to eat gluten

Hoon Sunwoo holds a sample of the antibody supplement he developed with colleague Jeong Sim

If you or someone you know has celiac disease, then you'll know how much it can limit one's diet. Because people with the autoimmune condition have a negative reaction to the gluten in grains such as wheat, rye or barley, that means they can't consume many baked goods, pastas, liquors, or any number of processed foods that use wheat as a binding agent. Soon, however, they may be able to eat whatever they want – if they take a new egg-based supplement first.

The supplement was developed by associate professor Hoon Sunwoo and retired professor Jeong Sim, at Canada's University of Alberta.

Utilizing a compound derived from the yolks of chicken eggs, it binds with gluten in the stomach. This keeps a class of proteins known as gliadin, which is the "problem" component of gluten, from damaging the absorptive surface of the small intestine.

As a result, sufferers of celiac disease (or other forms of gluten intolerance) should be spared the usual symptoms that occur when they consume gluten – these can include headaches, fatigue, bloating and anemia.

Before that can happen, however, the supplement will need to be put through an efficacy trial which is due to take place within a year. It is hoped that a consumer product could subsequently be available in Canada within three years, with a rollout in the US and Europe to follow.

The university has partnered with the UK-based Vetanda Group to commercialize the supplement.

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