Research Roundup: June/July 2017

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The latest medical news for people with allergies and food sensitivities.

“Gluten-Removed” Beer

gluten free beer

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Gluten-removed beer may not be safe for people with celiac disease, according to a recent study conducted by the Gluten Intolerance Group at The University of Chicago’s Celiac Research Center. Researchers used blood samples from people with celiac disease to determine whether or not proteins in gluten-free beer and in gluten-removed beer would be recognized by antibodies present in their blood. No blood samples reacted to the gluten-free beer. However, a percentage of blood samples did react to the gluten-removed beer.

Gluten-removed beer is made using wheat, barley or rye; an enzymatic process breaks down the gluten into smaller fragments that supposedly, in theory, would not trigger an immune response. Gluten-free beer is produced with naturally gluten-free grains, like sorghum or brown rice.

The study was published online in the Journal of AOAC International.

Food Allergy Registry

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has launched a Food Allergy Patient & Family Registry to help untangle the scientific and quality-of-life issues surrounding food allergies and to advance research. Participants can securely and privately share information on the registry about their experiences living with food allergies. This information will help researchers better understand how to prevent, diagnose and treat those with food allergies, according to AAFA’s president Cary Sennett, MD, PhD. “Collecting data from patients with food allergies about their health and lifestyle is a potentially transformation moment for food allergy research,” he said.

For more information and to register, visit the Kids with Food Allergies website.

Eczema & the Flu Vaccine

New research finds that flu vaccinations injected into the skin of people with eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) are less effective than those injected into the muscle. This may be due to the Staphylococcus bacteria, which often colonizes the cracked, dry skin of eczema patients and seems to dampen the immune response when the flu shot is administered into the skin, researchers said.

“We believe that atopic dermatitis patients are likely to get the most protection from traditional intramuscular flu vaccines,” said lead researcher Dr. Donald Leung, head of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology at National Jewish Health.

Characterized by chronically dry, itchy, irritated skin, eczema is linked to food allergies. The study was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Surprising Celiac Manifestation

Doctors in Amsterdam recently reported the case of a 17-month-old girl with transverse myelitis (an inflammation of the spinal cord leading to neurological damage, including muscle weakness, paralysis, and sensory problems) who was found to have undiagnosed celiac disease. The child, who was once healthy, showed a progressive unwillingness to sit, stand, play and walk. She was irritable, vomiting and losing weight with her muscles wasting. An MRI scan of her spinal cord indicated transverse myelitis. Blood tests and intestinal biopsy revealed celiac disease. She was given a corticosteroid >p. 79 medication and put on a gluten-free diet—and she recovered completely.

“To our knowledge, this is the first pediatric case of transverse myelitis. Blood tests and intestinal biopsy revealed celiac disease. She was given a corticosteroid medication and put on a gluten-free diet – and she recovered completely.

“To our knowledge, this is the first pediatric case of transverse myelitis as manifestation of celiac disease,” the authors said. “We suggest that all children with transverse myelitis, or other neurological manifestations of unknown original, should be screened for celiac disease.”

The case was published online in Pediatrics.

Rosacea & Celiac Disease

A genome study recently identified specific HLA alleles (alternate forms of genes that arise by mutation) associated with rosacea, a common skin disease that causes facial redness, bumps and pustules. Some of these alleles had been found to be associated with celiac disease and type 1 diabetes, two conditions which are genetically associated with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. So Danish researchers decided to investigate whether or not there was any actual relationship between rosacea and these diseases. Conducting a large population-based study, they discovered that patients with rosacea, especially women, were significantly more likely than the general population to also have celiac disease or one of these other autoimmune diseases.

“Clinicians may want to focus on a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases in patients with rosacea. This may enable early detection and treatment of underlying illness,” said lead author Alexander Egeberg, MD, PhD.

The study was published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology.

Alicia Woodward is editor-in-chief of Gluten Free & More magazine.