Celiac Vaccine Slated for 2017

It was a pleasant surprise to see ABC News (Australia) report on the subject of celiac disease, specifically the research of a celiac vaccine. You may have already heard that trials are currently in progress for this vaccine. Thus far, 34 people have been tested with the celiac vaccine (also known as Nexvax2) and if all goes well, they expect the vaccine to be ready by 2017.

Funding and Partners

The research of this celiac vaccine is partly funded by Nexpep, a biotechnology company. Their primary focus is on developing a treatment for celiac disease and tools to manage and diagnose the disease. The research was performed at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne, Australia, under a research contract between Nexpep, WEHI, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital / Melbourne Health.  An additional partner to Nexpep is INOVA Diagnostics Inc., a leader in autoimmune diagnostics.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where antibodies attack a human intestinal tract in the presence of gluten (wheat, rye, barley; and often oats, for some).

The Hype

Dr. Jason Tye-Din, a consultant of Nexpep, states that because a gluten-free diet is expensive and difficult, a vaccine would be much easier to prevent the symptoms of celiac disease. In addition, he stated a number of those with celiac disease continue to present symptoms despite a gluten-free diet.


In July 2007 it was announced that clinical trials would begin in 2008. In 2009 a research test monitoring immune responses to gluten was performed on 200 individuals diagnosed with celiac disease. This resulted in discovering what they believe to be the main reason why wheat, rye, and barley are toxic to people with celiac disease. Three peptides (a compound consisting of two or more amino acids linked in a chain) were identified as the cause of the reaction to gluten in those with celiac. This received international attention!

How it Works

They are attempting to desensitize patients to these three peptides. They hope that the vaccine will alter the immune response to gluten Рimmunotherapy.  Immunotherapy has been used successfully in treating other autoimmune disease such as multipile sclerosis, allergies, cancer and more. Typically, immunotherapy involves either blocking an antibody or reducing a particular antibody. In this case, of the celiac vaccine, they will inject amounts of, what they believe is causing the problem, the three peptides into celiac patients in order to build up a tolerance to them.

ScienceDaily reported that¬†Dr. Bob Anderson from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Immunology division stated that¬†the vaccine should be able to successfully treat approximately 90% of those with the DQ2 genetic form of celiac¬†disease. ¬†Close to 95% of all celiacs have DQ2.

Phase I trials included evaluating the effects of weekly injections of Nexvax2¬ģ over three weeks in celiac patients who continued a strict gluten-free diet. Some of the patients who were given higher doses of the celiac vaccine experienced gastrointestinal symptoms similar to what they usually experienced after eating gluten products. This was good news, as it told them that they were using the correct peptides in the vaccine.

They are also hoping to use this in the diagnosis of celiac (blood and genetic testing alone), instead of the more invasive test such as biopsy.

Dr. Robertson reported that they expect to enter Phase II trials within the next 10 months.

What They don’t Tell You

Altering your immune response may sound like a good thing if you have celiac disease, but is it really? What happens when they start messing around with your immune system? What long-term health consequences could this celiac vaccine have on your body? Could you develop another autoimmune disease? If so, you sure could not prove that it was caused by this immunotherapy, as celiac disease is associated with other autoimmune diseases, which is typical of most autoimmune diseases.


They tout that the vaccine should be able to successfully treat approximately 90% of those with celiac DQ2. It is hard to believe that they are already coming up these numbers, with the trial being in its infancy (Phase I). However, it is not surprising to me. When clinical trials do not turn out well they are able to act as though that particular trial never existed. They continue to perform trial after trial until they achieve their desired results. In the U.S they only need a few trials to turn out well before handing everything over to the FDA for final approval. A hypothetical example of this would be if they performed a total of 10 trials, 7 of which showed serious side effects in more than 50% of those with celiac; and the other 3 trials showed less than 2% had experienced serious side effects. The research team could provide the FDA with the 3 positive trials and never have to release the other information. Makes you think, right?

I no longer trust research trials, especially when a trial is being funded by a company which has a stake in its success. A bit of a conflict of interest. Wouldn’t you say?


Is a celiac vaccine the solution? Since a number of people who do not have celiac disease also experience trouble with gluten, why not point your figure at gluten alone? It would be like having a vaccine for smokers to prevent lung cancer. Why not just quit smoking?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Copyright 2011 Carla Spacher Gluten Free Recipe Box. All rights reserved.

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34 Replies to “Celiac Vaccine Slated for 2017”

  1. Isn’t is just easier to stop using genetically modified wheat? I was under the impression that it is these additional proteins (a result of using GMO’s) that cause celiac as well as other auto-immune diseases. Or has consuming GMO’s already damaged our bodies to the point where removing them from our diets doesn’t even matter?

  2. Since gluten is the binding protein found in wheat, barley, rye and some oats, why can’t someone develop a different binding protein. So many things I have read dicusses the fact that wheat has not always been grown this way. So why not get rid of the gluten? Many believe gluten contributes to cancer and several other diseases as well. A gluten free diet is easy for those who can afford it, but what about the ones who suffer and don’t know why? And couldn’t afford to change their diet if they did. Look at the facts, the main staples given to the poor, the homeless and many children in daycares, schools and even hospitals are flour based. Gluten is in everything. The only real way to avoid Gluten is to grow and prepare your own food, make your own soaps, cosmetics, etc., don’t eat out, basically don’t trust anyone else to prepare anything for you.
    For the average person in this day and time it is next to impossible. A vaccine may or may not work and who knows the consequences in the long run.
    Its time someone began to think of ways to eliminate gluten from everyones diet. What is gluten really good for, anyway?

  3. I wouldn’t go near any medical vaccine until it had a good 10 years under it’s belt – and maybe not even then. The fact that by simple avoidance you can eliminate symptoms and damage caused to the GI tract, and beyond, for me is a simple answer. My mother, myself and my daughter are all diagnosed Coeliacs. Of course I understand the frustration with regard to occasional contamination when out and about, but if you are prepared and organised, this can be greatly minimised.
    I want to know what, other than the 3 peptides are in the vaccination…… what does the base consist of? Charlotte Gerson, of the Gerson Institutes says ANY medication or pill will damage your liver – bar none.
    It is only because we live in a fast society and want everything now that Coeliac disease causes the issues it does for so many. We have become a society focused on the quick fix – and so easily disregard the potential impact this vaccine might have on other important organs in your body.

  4. I must say reading this and finding out there is hope to not having to live with a gluten free diet was one of the happiest day of my life. Sure, there may be side effects but what comes without side effect. I was diagnosed this year at 18 years old, and grew up watching my mom having severe reactions to it. My reaction wasnt so bad at the start but then one day I was out getting supper and someone carelessly cross contaminated my food and I was sick that night and so weak I couldnt move. If there is a way to fix this in my lifetime… I am willing to try it.

  5. It took me ten years to get my Celiac diagnosis, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I had gotten so sick that I was in danger of losing my job. My husband and friends were having a hard time understanding and in some cases came right out and told me they thought it was all in my head. I have had no problem being on a gluten free diet, because I know what the alternative feels like. I’m gluten free for life no matter what shots or pills they come out with. My problem is despite my best efforts I still get inadvertant exposures on a pretty regular basis. I would be thrilled to take shots or pills that would increase my tolerance enough that I could take generic drugs without worrying if they have gluten in them, or going in a restaurant and inhaling flour from baking bread and getting sick. Or worrying when a careless waiter throws a piece of bread on my plate, then takes it in the back, removes it, brings it back and tells me they made me a new plate. There’s just too much I can’t control. It would really give me piece of mind. So if they’re safe I’ll take them happily.

  6. Not letting anyone mess with your immune system? Taking advantage of the body’s natural immune reaction through the production of vaccines has been a cornerstone of medicine for over 200 years. People talk about vaccines as if they might as well be chemotherapy. On the contrary: vaccines have saved more lives and spared more human misery than any medical development in the history of the species. I’m not saying they have never done anyone any harm; that is patently untrue, but you would not want to live in a world where measles, mumps, rubella, polio, smallpox, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis and hepatitis ran unchecked through our increasingly dense human populations.

    My daughter has celiac, and it looks like she will be 18 at least when and if this vaccine comes out, so she’ll make her choice on her own, but if she asks my advice, I’ll tell her this: be careful. Read every piece of available literature and make sure you understand the biological processes involved as well as you can. Once you feel you have enough information, make your choice. But I’ll also tell her this: if she has reservations about this vaccine in particular, she’d be wise to pay attention to them. If, on the other hand, she has a problem with vaccines in general because they “mess with” the immune system, she can rest easy. No medicine is without side effects, but vaccines are as safe as any kind of medicine the mind of humanity has ever produced, and they are far more effective.

    I hope fervently that my daughter will someday have a legitimate alternative to a lifelong gluten-free diet.

  7. I don’t know about the vaccine, but it seems as though there are some problems with the fact that it only addresses those with certain genes. I’m also concerned about the fact that they’re exposing us to small amounts of peptide??? Does this suggest we should eat gluten in small quantities?

    I recently found out about a product that may work for all forms of celiac disease, has been around for years and seems to work on everyone with gluten problems. Many have returned to their normal diets following the treatment.

  8. I will take the shots if they are proven safe. I have been desensitized to bees and it has saved my life twice.

    Eating wheat is not like smoking.

    The gluten free ‘breads’ are disgusting and a rip off. I eat other whole foods like sweet potato and quinoa.

    Since I am vegetarian by choice, there are very few places I can eat. I expect no one to serve my food in their home. I carry the gluten free granola bars. Restaurants can not be trusted. Friends, family and co-workers think I’m crazy.

    I’ll take the vaccine.

  9. I am vey sensitive to gluten, and cross contamination is a huge issue for me. I find sticking to the diet very easy- I was diagnosed as a toddler so have never known any different. But because of staff being sloppy with cross contamination, even after you’ve explained it to severall people, and because of the limited availibility of foods to eat on the go in some shops, going on long journeys, going on holiday, or going out for the day is very hard-and it’s the same for people with all allergies and intolerances.

    I don’t want a magic cure, I don’t want to be lazy with my diet, I just want the stress of eating to be lifted- not to read the label 3 times, or inspect the salad for crumbs, then spend the rest of the day worrying in case I’ll need to find a toilet fast! Even if there was something to make me a bit less sensitive so I could tolerate a few crumbs every now and then would be lovely!!

  10. Keith,

    I am reasonably sure that at least part of the issues I have had with nutrition/allergies/immune disfunction are rooted in receiving so many shots at such a young age. I wish you well in your pursuit of relief, but as someone that spent 40 years letting every physician load me up with shots, steroids, pills, inhalers, etc. I can say categorically that nothing they ever offered gave me relief. Modifying my diet and boosting my immune system is the only thing that has ever worked for me. Getting off of all of their “treatments” was central to my recovery. Just my case, nothing scientific about it, but I see more of this every day now.

  11. Ther IRS reference for the deductibility of food is here: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_publink1000179034

    You can include the cost of special food in medical expenses only if:

    The food does not satisfy normal nutritional needs,
    The food alleviates or treats an illness, and
    The need for the food is substantiated by a physician.

    The amount you can include in medical expenses is limited to the amount by which the cost of the special food exceeds the cost of a normal diet.

  12. No, not me… I already have enough meds!
    In reference to the taste of GF food…….My food tastes just as good as the wheat version (or better). Mine do not have the extra additives as the ‘off the shelf’ food. Even if food does not have wheat/gluten, often it has soy, which I cannot have either.

    There are foods that I liked, but now I am a little happy I can’t have them, because they weren’t really good for me anyway. That’s probably awful to say, but I can now look back and see how horrible I ate!

    If you are accustomed to ‘fast’ food, then you will not like having to cook most of your own food.

    I make my own flour mixes, with rice as the least percentage of the mix. I buy buckwheat, oat and the ‘ancient grains’ (Amaranth Flour , Millet Flour, Quinoa Flour, Sorghum flour , Teff Flour ) and do different mixes depending on what I am making.
    Mixing GF flours is like learning to make your first ‘from scratch’ cake.

  13. I love the analogy to smoking.

    Why in the world would I want to alter my immune system to tolerate a toxic substance? I agree with Dr. Ford – gluten causes many more problems than celiac.

  14. I’m in… I will take the shots, if nothing else than to be a guinea pig for my kids sake. If it works then my two boys can have the life I once had before being diagnosed. I am so sick and tired of them being isolated with their friends.. we have to always bring our own cake or pizza to every b’day party for them.

    Not only does the food taste absolutely pathetic compared to what their friends are eating but someday when they get older they are likely to try and eat what their friends eat. They are asymptomatic, meaning no symptoms. I certainly can understand why they would eventually stray from this diet.

    Try going to a pizzeria and getting a slice, not can do.. even if they offer gluten free pizza you must buy a whole pie!

    Enough already.. nothing about this gluten free diet is easy, cheap or normal. Everyone is put out.. even my friends (god bless them) have to alter their dinner menus for me when we go over their homes for dinner parties.

    Sick of this disease and the type 2 diabetes that it also brought on for me… I’ll take the injections and see the results.. can it be worse than this leprosy nightmare I live with now? No way… and if it works? I’m free from the shackles of servitude to the the “industry” that makes so much money off of us with “rice flour”… have you priced rice? Why should the flour cost 5 times more money than rice? Potato flours? C’mon.. everyone demonizes the pharmas, but I think a whole lot of bilking people with special diets is just as bad if not worse!

    Bring on the SHOTS!!!!!!!

  15. SO refreshing to read an article like this, and most of the comments. Immunizations are designed to stir up the immune system, and they are linked to a host of problems. We no longer vaccinate at all. I don’t think this “solution” is the answer…

  16. Omg at first it seems wonderful. Wow what i wouldnt do to eat a Napolean.
    A regular flu /H1N1 vaccine has to be split in 3 for me to even tolerate it- my reaction is so bad.
    I know what I have – don’t know what I’ll get with this vaccine.
    Sorry I’m passing on the vaccine. I’ve got asthma , diabetes , migraines , & interstitial cystitis – all autoimmune diseases.
    Don’t need more than this.

  17. I think we have destroyed our bodies’ ability to process food correctly with refined grains, refined sugar, foods that are lacking in nutrition (from depleted soil, wrong food choices), not enough raw foods (leading to a lack of digestive enzymes) etc. And now that all of this has caught up with us, pharmaceutical companies are looking for a drug to take away the symptoms, just as they do with so many other problems.
    The switch to eating whole grains such as sorghum and quinoa, along with the elimination of all the stuff no-one should be eating anyway, has given all the members of my family, celiacs and non-celiacs, renewed health, vitality, increased immune systems, better mental clarity, etc., etc.
    I wish our country would return to eating food whole, the way it was intended to be eaten, instead of refined. It should be a normal thing for restaurants, nursing homes, schools, etc. to serve whole, nutritious foods.

  18. Will this vacine stop the damage to the villi? I don’t read anything that specific covers what happens to the villi. I, too, have watched closed with my Mom first at assisted living and now at a nursing home. Neither have a clue of what is gluten free, how to prepare and cross contamination issues. I hope in 20 years things have greatly improved. What if you have a dementia of some kind and are no longer able to know you must eat gluten free or even remember what gluten free means??? Whos is going to be my voice and my eyes if I reach this point in life?

    1. I completely understand your concerns. I, too, have given thought to the issue of senior living. One assisted living facility has become Gluten Free Food Service Accredited (GFFS) through the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, the first in the U.S. You can read their press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/01/prweb4970304.htm. I have no doubt that the amount of assisted living homes serving gluten-free, while preventing cross-contamination, will be increasing in the coming years. With the increasing numbers of celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity diagnosis, I cannot imagine it not resulting in supply and demand.

    2. My mother lives in a residential facility, but in her own apartment and she cooks her own food. She is nearly 90 and wonders what she will do when the time comes she will no longer cook. She took several meals at the cafeteria but the variety and amount of foods was less than optimal. Everything in a residential cafeteria has wheat, pasta, breaded, etc. etc.. One can’t get away from it. We have a lot of educating to do before my generation gets that old.

  19. As I approach old age, I am eager for a vaccine or the pill that treats the reaction. I have been around to a lot of assisted living and nursing homes for my mom and recently deceased mother-in-law, and found they cannot handle gluten-free. I am rather terrified at the idea of being dependent upon them to keep me GF when the time arrives, and the thought of the pain returning…..daunting. All vaccines monkey with our immune system. It is how they work.

    1. I have used immunotherapy for allergies to cats. I no longer test positive to cats. It works. If they come up with a vaccine, you bet I will try it.

  20. A vaccine that could cause more immune problems just so that I can eat an apple fritter? No thanks.
    Naturally Gluten Free foods aren’t expensive. Rice, amaranth, nuts, beans, lentils, fruits, veggies, dairy, and eggs aren’t nearly as expensive as those “Gluten Free” manufactured products like pancake mix, bread, cookies, pretzels.
    I’m not downing on the products, I love eatting pretzels and pancakes every now and then, but the celiac body doesn’t need it.
    It seems this vaccine is just a cry to the human desire to do whatever you want. I would love to eat real bread and apple fritters again, but the money going into this study can be so better used for people who need clean water. Curing Celiac is not high my list when I look at all the other problems in the world.

  21. A vaccine contains enough adjuvant (immune system stimulant) to produce an an adequate immune response from a typical person. What happens when we give a vaccine to someone who is predisposed to autoimmunity or already has an autoimmune reaction going on in their body? SCARY stuff.

  22. Do not think that the vaccine will be helpful. Gluten causes a lot more problems than just celiac. Work on eliminating gluten from the food chain – rather than bowing to cheap and poorly nutritious grain.

    1. Well said! Surely adding more chemicals to an already comprised immune system is not the answer. The long term answer is to eliminate the root of the problem. Grains that cannot be digested.

    2. I agree. I will not be taking a vaccine. In fact, I do not ingest the safe grains very often. They have too many calories. I am healthy on my current diet of unprocessed foods and I am happy.

  23. I say HECK NO am I putting more pharmaceuticals in my body! We have all seen the ads on tv, in newspapers, etc. where the the side-effects are worse than the cure – some debilitating – then you have the long-term of so many of these new drugs that are being fast-tracked and later find out that they can cause life-threatening diseases and complications. Ok, yes, I would LOVE to eat real bread again! BUT, do I want to shorten my life to do it? It is a choice each of us has to make – I have made mine!

  24. NO, NO, NO!!!! Oh goodness! NO!!! Not letting someone mess with my immune system! Its been through enough!!! I am continually disturbed by people saying it is too expensive or too difficult! Yes, it can cost a bit more. It has effected our budget, but it is worth it! It was REALLY expensive when I was trying to live on GF packaged/processed foods like I had been. And to say that some still experience symptoms! Well, from personal experience that meant that I had problems with other food items. Some that I just can not handle because of the damage to my body and others because of allergies or intolerances to those items! Please, everyone, STOP looking for easy ways out of things!!! We must stop doing this to our bodies! Science is a great thing – to a point!!! We have so much control over our health! I never realized it before, but this last year has taught me so much!!!! THANK YOU for the information, Carla! You have certainly been a great help along this journey!!!

    1. Jessica, GF foods are tax deductable. Keep track of what you spend in health food stores (100%) and what you spend in regular stores (the difference) Ie: a loaf of bread is $3.50 a loaf of GF bread is $6.50, you can put the $3 on your taxes under medical costs.
      There is no way I am going to let them give me a vaccine!!!! I will stick with my diet.

  25. When I went into reading this I was thinking about all of the things you stated down the page…My first thought was celiac’s is the root of a lot of autoimmune diseases, so what happens when they try and fix that problem but it encourages other immune problems….and the clinical trials thing I agree with you is a nasty gamble. Splenda is a good example…my husbands friend kept getting migraines so my husband told me to quit using it, and a couple years later we started hearing more about what it really was….Darvocet just got taken off the market because people were starting to have too many bad side effects…..I don’t really want to subject my kids to all of these gambles…..I make home made gluten free meals for my whole family of 6 and that makes it cheaper, and they have had so many positive changes from this…..I’m sticking with what God gave me to cure them :)

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