A biomarker for diagnosing celiac disease in people on a gluten-free diet

June 05, 2019

Celiac disease is a complex condition, routinely treated by means of a strict gluten-free diet. One of the diagnostic challenges of this disease is that patients need to be consuming gluten so that a correct diagnosis by means of endoscopy can be made. Yet nowadays there are more and more people who opt to eliminate gluten from their diets before seeing a specialist, and this makes it tremendously difficult to reliably diagnose the disease. However, as José Ramón Bilbao and Nora Fernandez-Jimenez, researchers at the UPV/EHU and the Biocruces-Bizkaia Institute of Healthcare Research, pointed out, "the self-diagnosis of gluten intolerance is a growing global phenomenon as it reaches 12-13 % of the general population in European countries such as Italy and the United Kingdom".

In an article published recently in the Human Molecular Genetics journal these researchers report on the discovery of a biomarker that could enable celiac disease to be diagnosed in the blood of people on a gluten-free diet. In this work, though an analysis of applied statistics, the researchers have discovered that the relative expression of the isoforms of the UBE2L3 gene in the blood makes it possible to distinguish with 100 % sensitivity and specificity celiac patients on a gluten-free diet.

From basic research to clinical practice

The UPV/EHU has patented this discovery so that in the future it can be transferred to companies interested in marketing this new diagnostic system. Right now, Dr Fernandez is focussing her efforts on securing funding because "last year the project received an award for best poster at the Congress of the Spanish Celiac Disease Society, but now further funding needs to be secured to validate the biomarker in a larger cohort of people". According to Dr Bilbao, "UBE2L3 is an example of how the transfer from basic Genomics research to clinical practice is possible, and could have a huge impact on the routine diagnosis of celiac disease".
Additional information

The PhD holder in Biology José Ramón Bilbao-Catalá is an adjunct professor in the Department of Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology of the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, lead researcher in the Functional Celiac Disease group, and coordinator of the Endocrinology, Metabolism, Nutrition and Kidney Disease research area at the BioCruces-Bizkaia IIS.

Following a post-doctoral stay at the WHO International Agency of Cancer Research in France, Dr Nora Fernandez-Jimenez currently works at the BioCruces-Bizkaia IIS. She is a post-doctoral researcher in the Genomics and Epigenomics of complex diseases and normal child development.

University of the Basque Country

Related Celiac Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

More turkey dinners for people with celiac disease?
An international team of researchers led by McMaster University has found that tryptophan, an amino acid present in high amounts in turkey, along with some probiotics, may help them heal and respond better to a gluten-free diet

Unique antibody profile sets gluten sensitivity apart from celiac disease
People with gluten sensitivity have an antibody profile that differs from that of people with celiac disease, which could help doctors diagnose gluten sensitivity.

Yes, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease are linked
A systematic review and meta-analysis that has determined there is a nine-fold increased risk of having IBD for patients with a previous diagnosis of celiac disease.

Celiac disease linked to common chemical pollutants
Elevated blood levels of toxic chemicals found in pesticides, nonstick cookware, and fire retardants have been tied to an increased risk for celiac disease in young people, new research shows.

How probiotic Bifidobacteria could help celiac disease patients
Gluten is enemy No. 1 for those with celiac disease, and it's hard to avoid.

Celiac disease linked to increased risk of premature death
People with celiac disease have increased risk of dying prematurely, despite increased awareness of the disease in recent years and better access to gluten-free food.

Celiac disease might be cured by restoring immune tolerance to gliadin
Celiac disease affects 0.3-2.4% of people in most countries world-wide, and approx.

New mouse model for celiac disease to speed research on treatments
Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed the first truly accurate mouse model of celiac disease.

Bacterial link in celiac disease
Researchers have discovered bacterial exposure is a potential environmental risk factor in developing celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune-like condition that affects about one in 70 Australians.

New method enables easier and faster detection of celiac disease antibodies
Researchers from the University of Helsinki, Finland, developed a novel diagnostic method for the rapid on-site measurement of antibodies from patient samples.

Read More: Celiac Disease News and Celiac Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.