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A gluten digestion inhibitor

An Israeli biopharmaceutical development company, known as BioLineRx, has developed a copolymer called P(HEMA-co-SS), and the company expects to use it in an oral treatment for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.1  The copolymer is claimed to bind to gluten and prevent the digestion of the gluten molecule, thereby eliminating the creation of the peptides that normally result from the digestive process that are known to cause immune system reactions in the digestive system of individuals who are sensitive to those gluten-based peptides.

Preliminary trials in rodents have demonstrated that the copolymer reduces the digestion of gluten, and it significantly reduces inflammatory reactions to gluten by their immune system.  It remains to be seen whether or not the compound will work effectively in human digestive systems, and whether it will be capable of effectively reducing inflammatory reactions and preventing any risk of progressive damage in human digestive systems. 

Of course, if the gluten is to be rendered indigestible, then an obvious question arises.  Namely, “Why bother to eat any wheat at all, if it will not be digested"?  Obviously, if it is not digested, then the body will not be able to absorb any of the nutrients contained in the protein (gluten is the primary protein in wheat, amounting to over 80% of the total).  If we will be unable to utilize the lion’s share of the protein in wheat, then what is left is not much more than a source of carbohydrates and fiber, with minimal protein.  If we render most of the protein in wheat indigestible, then wheat would offer fewer total nutrients than virtually any other grain.  It would provide few benefits to a healthy diet.

1. The copolymer P(HEMA-co-SS) binds gluten and reduces immune response in gluten-sensitized mice and human tissues.

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