PERTH is set to host one of the world’s first trials into a vaccine for coeliac disease.
According to Coeliac Australia, one in 70 Australians has the disease but more than 80 per cent of those affected are unaware they have it.
Currently, the only treatment is a strict, life-long change of diet.
Linear Clinical Research chief executive Michael Winlo said a successful vaccine could mean more freedom for those diagnosed with the disease.
“Suffering with coeliac disease can be devastating; even the smallest contact with gluten, such as a knife used to cut bread, could spark a massive reaction,” Dr Winlo said.
“Coeliac disease has a marked effect on your quality of life; sufferers have difficulty absorbing nutrients and there’s an increased risk of morbidity and developing cancer.”
Dr Winlo said the vaccine in question has been developed by an American company headed up by Australian Bob Anderson.
“The idea is to gradually desensitise a person’s immune system and to retrain it so it won’t respond to gluten,” he said.
“If this trial is successful the vaccine could be developed to treat autoimmune conditions such as type one diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.”
Linear Clinical Research is currently looking for people with a clinical diagnosis of coeliac disease to take part in the trial at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands.