Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A possible celiac vaccine

What would you do if you’d been told that for the rest of your life, you can’t eat something that you love. Something that everyone around you is always eating. Something that is everywhere. Like, oh…bread. Or pasta. And it’s not just that you can’t have it, but that it will make you very sick, and could possibly kill you.

And after you’ve gone without this thing, this bread thing, for several years, you were told that maybe you could have this bread thing again. But for that to happen, you would have to put up with months - maybe years - of shots. And it might not even work. And even if it did work, there might be side effects. Some of which might not be discovered for many years to come.

What would you do?

Someday in the foreseeable future, I may be facing this situation.

I have celiac disease. I have to stay away from gluten, which is the protein in wheat, barley and rye, or I’ll be very sick. So not only do I have to stay away from breads, pastas, etc., but I have to stay away from things that have gluten added to them (like many processed foods). And then there’s cross contamination, where a microscopic amount of gluten can get into something that should be gluten free. The possibilities for getting sick are virtually endless.

At the moment, the only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

But that may be changing. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian vaccine for celiac disease is showing promise in early trials. Here’s a link to the story. Initial reports are that it is working as expected, and that it is safe. Of course, it’s still early, and the finished product is YEARS away from production.

So I’m not stressing about this just yet.

But this vaccine may eventually become available.

So hypothetically, if that happens, it will be time for a decision. Someday.

By then hopefully there will be a lot more information about how this vaccine works, and what the possible side effects are. And then there’s going to be a waiting period, while I let other people try this drug out. Because I think any drug approved by the FDA is like any software released by Microsoft. You never, ever want to buy the first release. Always let the early adopters test it for any lingering bugs. Wait until a service pack or two get released. Think Windows 98. Or Vioxx.

Yeah, right now, I’m good with being gluten free. You know something? It’s not bad. I definitely feel better than I have, like, ever in my life. And once you learn what to eat and what to avoid, it’s not even that hard. Okay, eating out in a restaurant can be a pain. But even that has gotten better. And the availability of gluten-free foods is just amazing. There are very few things that can’t be replicated in a gluten-free version.

So for now, keep the needles away. Ask me again when the vaccine has been out for several years. I promise I’ll take another look at it then…

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