Unique enzyme could allow gluten-sensitive patients to digest gluten — 3 key notes

A study presented at Digestive Disease Week presented encouraging results for aspergillus niger-derived prolyl endoprotease.

Gluten-sensitive patients ingesting the enzyme broke down small amounts of gluten in the digestive system.

School of Medical Sciences at University of Örebro, Sweden postdoctoral research fellow and study lead author Julia König, PhD, and colleagues examined how AN-PEP worked in 18 gluten-sensitive patients.

Researchers gave all participants a bowl of porridge with two crumbled wheat cookies, then gave them either a high or low dose of AN-PEP or a placebo. The researchers measured gluten levels in the stomach and small intestine over three hours.

Here's what they found.

1. AN-PEP broken down gluten in both high and low doses.

2. In the stomach, gluten levels were 85 percent lower than in the placebo group.

3. Once the food reached the duodenum, patients' gluten levels dropped by 81 percent in the high dosage group and 87 percent in the low dosage group.

Researchers concluded, "This enzyme can potentially reduce the side effects that occur when gluten-sensitive individuals accidentally eat a little gluten."

They cautioned the enzyme will not allow for large amount of gluten ingestion. They also noted the enzyme was not tested on celiac disease patients because of how harmful gluten is in those cases.

Digestive Disease Week is May 6 through May 9 in Chicago.

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