Life / Health

Edmonton researchers develop pill that allows celiac sufferers to eat gluten

A revolutionary “gluten pill” developed by University of Alberta researchers means breads, cakes and pastas are back on the menu for those suffering from celiac disease.

Made from the yolks of chicken eggs, the natural supplement prevents the absorption of gliadin, a component of gluten that people with celiac disease can’t digest properly.

Developed by Hoon Sunwoo, an associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and colleague Jeong Sim, a retired professor from the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, the supplement is expected to help countless people who are forced to carefully plan meals due to gluten intolerance.

“This is the chicken egg yolk antibody, and we dried it to make it powder form,” Sunwoo said.

“The powder has the egg yolk antibody which can neutralize or capture the gluten in the food. So people who are concerned about food containing gluten can take this pill before meals.”

Those suffering from celiac disease experience anemia, headaches, fatigue and bloating because gluten damages the absorptive surface of the small intestine. One in 133 people in Canada are affected by the disease, and must avoid gluten, a binding agent found in wheat, barley and other common foods.

Sunwoo said the product must still undergo human clinical trials and approval from Health Canada before hitting store shelves.

“This is not a drug, this is a food supplement that will be over the counter so it will be available for everyone,” he said.

“In two years, I expect this product to be available on the market for a reasonable, affordable cost.”