Lack of research is a barrier in developing treatments and a cure for celiac disease. For a long time, most medical experts thought the gluten-free diet was all patients needed, that it was 100 percent effective. Studies have shown that about 30 percent of people on a strict gluten-free diet continue to experience symptoms, in part because it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate gluten from the diet due to cross-contact. Furthermore, there are many challenges in adopting and maintaining a gluten-free diet that impact quality of life and long-term health.
Researchers are now more actively working to understand how celiac disease develops so they can develop potential treatments and, ultimately find a cure. However, there is a lack of research funding for celiac disease. Celiac disease research consistently received the lowest amount of federal research funding over a five-year period compared to other gastrointestinal conditions, a review of National Institutes of Health data found. There needs to be more funding of celiac disease research, and patients need to be engaged in clinical trials investigating ways to treat celiac disease, both in addition to and as a replacement for the gluten-free diet.
Researchers are getting closer to understanding how celiac disease develops. Various potential treatment options are being explored, including breaking down gluten using enzymes, interrupting the effect gluten has on the cells in the intestine and using therapeutic vaccines that would turn off the response celiac disease patients have to gluten. Patient input and participation is needed for each of these potential treatments to move forward.
Go Beyond Celiac works to close the gap between patients and scientists by collecting the data needed for celiac research. As a person affected by celiac disease, you can help advance celiac research by telling us your story via the five Go Beyond Celiac surveys about your life before, during and after diagnosis. Researchers can use this information to come up with new treatments for celiac disease and eventually a cure.