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Drug Therapies in the Works to Combat Celiac Disease

Several biopharmaceutical research companies are investigating an early-stage oral therapy for preventing small intestine damage in people with celiac disease.

AbbVie, an offshoot of Abbott Labs, acquired the rights to AVL003, an oral therapy that uses recombinant enzymes to break down gluten and lower inflammation in the intestines. Alvine Pharmaceuticals developed AVL003, and AbbVie paid $70 million for a stake in the drug. The treatment is currently in stage 2b of development and received Fast Track designation from the Food and Drug Administration in September, which expedites clinical reviews.

Three other companies are also conducting research on potential drug therapies.

  • Alba Therapeutics is investigating a compound called larazotide acetate that’s thought to decrease the intestine’s permeability.
  • ImmunosanT is trying to develop antigen-specific immunotherapy. The company has developed a peptide-based vaccine called Nexvax2.® The drug has completed Phase I clinical trials and human trials are ongoing in the US and Australia.
  • BioLineRX announced preclinical trials on BL-7010, a drug that contains polymers which sequesters gliadins, the  immunogenic peptides in gluten that cause a reaction in people with celiac disease.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if any of these drugs worked to correct or reduce the effects of celiac disease? With all the ongoing research, a solution is certain to come forward in the coming years. Until then, a gluten-free lifestyle is the only option for people with celiac disease.