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Pill to help gluten intolerance sufferers

GluteGuardA tiny pill is set to alleviate the worry thousands of Australians feel when eating out because of their intolerance to gluten.

GluteGuard, developed by scientists from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, contains an enzyme found in the papaya fruit that guards sufferers against gluten – hence its name .

Taken just before a meal, it works to break down the gluten into tiny molecules so it is no longer toxic to the body.

What makes it so effective is that the tablet contains a special coating to ensure its safe passage through the harsh environment of the stomach and into the small intestine where the enzyme is released.

This is important because the small intestine is where gluten- a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats – causes the damage.

An estimated 1 in 10 Australian adults are gluten intolerant. This represents approximately 1.8 million people who are currently avoiding or limiting their consumption of wheat-based products because of the painful and annoying symptoms their intolerance to gluten can cause.

These symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, cramps, headaches, bone or joint pain, muscle cramps, leg numbness, eczema, fatigue, general malaise and tiredness.

Gluten intolerance is different to coeliac disease, which is a serious medical condition where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten and causes damage to the lower bowel.

Lead researcher and biochemist Professor Hugh Cornell, who has been working to help those with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity for more than four decades, says clinical trials have shown GluteGuard works.

He says this is very exciting because it is “going to be helpful to a lot of people”.

“Countless people worldwide struggle on a daily basis with the various symptoms of gluten intolerance.

“It’s going to take the worry out of people with a gluten-free diet.

“It’s going to just take that worry away when people are travelling, or visiting friends, going out to restaurants – that type of thing, that’s where its going to be a big help,” Prof Cornell said.

It’s hoped GluteGuard will also greatly benefit the 1 in 70 Australians with coeliac disease, although it’s not recommended as a substitute for a gluten-free diet.

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