Celiac disease is one of the most common autoimmune conditions in the U.S. but frequently goes undiagnosed. The cause is currently unknown and it can develop at any point in life. People who have a relative with the disease are more likely to develop it, and women are more likely than men to have it.
When people with celiac disease eat food with gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging areas of the lining of their intestines. Symptoms can vary from patient to patient but can include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite and unexplained weight loss. This variance in symptoms is one reason celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose.
There is currently no cure for celiac disease but it can be managed with a gluten-free diet. Wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten but other grains (including quinoa, buckwheat, millet and amaranth) do not.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, researchers are currently seeking to develop wheat that would be safe for celiac disease patients to consume.
Dr. Peter H.R. Green, Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and Professor of Clinical Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, spoke with BIOtechNow to raise awareness of what celiac disease is, how it is diagnosed and the treatment options.