New York: Researchers have found an enzyme tablet that can reduce the side effects that occur when gluten-sensitive individuals accidentally eat a little gluten.
Researchers found that taking this tablet while consuming foods containing gluten also prevents a significant amount of it from entering the small intestine.
This could enable gluten-sensitive patients to ingest small quantities of gluten without experiencing symptoms, such as bloating, diarrohea and abdominal pain.
The encouraging results from the enzyme known as aspergillus niger-derived prolyl endoprotease (AN-PEP) were presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2017 being held from May 6-9 at McCormick Place, Chicago, US.
The study's lead author Julia Konig from the University of Orebro, Sweden said, "This substance allows gluten-sensitive patients to feel safer, for example, when they are out with friends at a restaurant and can't be sure whether something is 100 per cent gluten-free."
Konig said, "Since even small amounts of gluten can affect gluten-sensitive patients, this supplement can play an important role in addressing the residual gluten that is often the cause of uncomfortable symptoms."
In the study, 18 self-reported gluten-sensitive patients ate a porridge that included two crumbled wheat cookies containing gluten.
They also took either a high dose or low dose of AN-PEP, or a placebo. Researchers then measured gluten levels in the stomach and small intestine over the course of three hours.
The findings found that AN-PEP, in both high and low doses, broke down gluten in both the stomach and the first part of the small intestine, or duodenum.
In the stomach, gluten levels in both the high- and low-dose groups were 85 per cent lower than in the placebo group.
Once the food reached the duodenum, gluten levels were reduced by 81 per cent in the high dose group and 87 per cent in the low dose group versus placebo.
Konig said, "We are not suggesting that AN-PEP will give these individuals the ability to eat pizza or pasta, sources of large amounts of gluten, but it might make them feel better if they mistakenly ingest gluten."
The team did not test the enzyme on celiac disease patients, because even small amounts of gluten can cause long-term harm in these individuals.
Because of that, Konig does not recommend celiac patients view this enzyme as a way to start eating any gluten.
(With IANS inputs)