November 12, 2008 -- Researchers in Spain and the
Kingdom are reporting development of a faster
test for identifying the food protein that triggers celiac disease, a
difficult-to-diagnose digestive disease involving the inability to digest
protein called gluten that occurs in wheat, oats, rye, and barley. The finding
could help millions of people avoid diarrhea, bloating, and other symptoms that
occur when they unknowingly eat foods containing gluten. The study is scheduled
for the December 15 issue of Analytical
Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
In the new report, Alex
Fragoso, Ciara O’Sullivan and colleagues note that patients with celiac disease
can avoid symptoms by avoiding foods that contain gluten. Doing so can be
tricky, however, because gluten may be a hidden ingredient in unsuspected foods,
such as soy sauce, canned soups, and licorice candy. Some prepared foods list
gluten content on package labels, but identifying its presence remains difficult
The scientists describe development of a new sensor
that detects antibodies to the protein gliadin, a component of gluten.
Laboratory tests showed that it is superior to the so-called enzyme-linked
immunosorbent assay (ELISA), now the standard test for gliadin. It took the new
test barely 90 minutes to detect gliadin in the parts per billion range,
compared to 8 hours for the ELISA test. Although both tests were equally
accurate, the new sensor would be easier to use at food manufacturing plants,
the researchers note.
News release courtesy of The American Chemical Society.