ImmusanT, a company focused on restoring tolerance to gluten and
overcoming the need for gluten-free diet in patients with celiac
disease, today announced that an article appearing in the February 2014
issue of the journal, Clinical & Experimental Immunology,
features research findings demonstrating that a simple blood test may
eventually be used for diagnosing celiac disease and monitoring new
therapies. ImmusanT's chief scientific officer, Bob Anderson, M.D.,
Ph.D., along with collaborators in Australia, led the study.
The new blood test provides an approach that could lead to more rapid
and accurate diagnosis of celiac disease, a condition that can currently
only be definitively diagnosed with a small bowel biopsy. The new test
could help address an emerging medical problem of inconclusive or
self-diagnosed celiac disease in people following a gluten-free diet who
may not have the disease.
"This novel diagnostic method for celiac disease required study
participants to include gluten in their diets for a mere three days, a
stark contrast to the weeks or months of gluten consumption required for
a diagnosis using the current standard, bowel biopsy," commented Dr.
All study participants, including control patients who did not have
celiac disease, ate gluten within three days of taking the blood test.
Using the new test, the researchers detected the T cells responsible for
celiac disease in 85 percent of the study participants previously known
to have the disease. The test was negative in all of the patients on a
gluten-free diet who thought gluten was the cause of their digestive
symptoms but did not have celiac disease.
"The results from the blood test are highly encouraging and warrant
further research and development. Additionally, this is an important
step toward a tool that could monitor changes in the small population of
circulating T cells responsible for celiac disease when using treatments
intended to restore tolerance to gluten, such as Nexvax2, the compound
currently being developed by ImmusanT," Anderson continued.
"There is significant need for highly specific, noninvasive and
easy-to-use diagnostic tools for celiac disease," said Leslie Williams,
president and chief executive officer of ImmusanT.
"The findings from this study are extremely promising and support our
ongoing work on a Nexvax2 blood test as a companion diagnostic and
monitoring tool. Tests of this quality and simplicity are not available
for other immune-mediated diseases, like Type-1 diabetes or multiple
sclerosis, for which tolerance-inducing treatments are being
considered," Williams continued. ImmusanT is currently developing Nexvax2®,
a therapeutic vaccine designed to restore immune tolerance to gluten and
allow patients to resume an unrestricted diet.
Visit the Clinical
& Experimental Immunology web site to view the entire
About Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a T cell-mediated autoimmune-like disease triggered by
the ingestion of gluten from wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats in
genetically susceptible individuals. A gluten-free diet is the only
current medical treatment for this disease. The community prevalence of
celiac disease is 0.7 percent in the U.S., but 83 percent of cases go
unrecognized. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten the
individual's immune system responds by triggering T cells to fight the
offending proteins, damaging the small intestine and inhibiting the
absorption of important nutrients into the body. With no available drug
therapy, the only option for the approximately one percent of the global
population that has celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from the diet.
Compliance is often challenging, and nearly half the people on the
strict elimination diet still have residual damage to their small
Undiagnosed, celiac disease is a major contributor to poor educational
performance and failure to thrive in children. Untreated disease in
adults is associated with increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis,
problems during pregnancy and birth, short stature, dental enamel
hypoplasia, dermatitis, recurrent stomatitis and cancer.
About ImmusanT Inc.
ImmusanT is a privately-held biotechnology company focused on restoring
tolerance to gluten in celiac disease by harnessing new discoveries in
immunology that aim to improve diagnosis and treatment and return
patients to a normal diet, good health and improved quality of life. The
company is developing Nexvax2®,
a therapeutic vaccine for celiac disease, and a companion diagnostic and
monitoring tool to improve celiac disease management. ImmusanT's
targeted immunotherapy discovery platform can be applied to a variety of
epitope-specific autoimmune diseases. Founded in 2010, ImmusanT is
backed by Vatera Healthcare Partners. More information may be found at www.ImmusanT.com,
or follow ImmusanT
Leslie Williams, 617-299-8399 Ext. 201
MacDougall Biomedical Communications