A pill to treat coeliac disease? Not quite – here’s what the science says
Recent headlines proclaimed an Australian-developed pill might help those with coeliac disease eat wheat without becoming ill.
The pill, GluteGuard, was developed by the Melbourne-based biotech company Glutagen. It contains an enzyme called caricain, found naturally in papaya, which can break down proteins, including gluten.
But GluteGuard is not suitable as a treatment for coeliac disease. This position is supported by Glutagen’s disclaimer, which states the product is not a suitable replacement for a gluten-free diet and should not be used to “treat, prevent or cure” any disease.
According to Coeliac Australia, the only treatment for coeliac disease is “the strict, life-long avoidance of foods containing gluten”. The potential complications of consuming gluten for people living with coeliac disease are serious and include osteoporosis, anaemia and some cancers.