Apr 11, 2017 03:09 PM EDT
If you cannot tolerate foods that have gluten, you have what is called celiac disease. Your digestive system goes for a toss if you have celiac disease, as your immune system mistakes gluten to be a harmful substance.
It's all because of a common virus, which is probably due to genetics. Even if 30 percent of Americans carry the genes that make them vulnerable, only one percent of Americans have the disease. Yet not everyone exposed to the risk genes actually gets the illness.
Dr. Terence Dermody, who chairs the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, and is an author of the new study published in Science explains that it could be a viral infection. With another team led by Bana Jabri of the University of Chicago, he conducted experiments to study reovirus that infects most Americans in childhood. It is not thought to be harmful. The team took some mice and genetically engineered them to contract the celiac disease. They then made the mice vulnerable to reovirus and gave them gluten.
Immediately, the mice developed an immunological response-fighting gluten just like humans who have celiac disease, according to Dermody. Patients with celiac disease also showed symptoms of diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress. Dermody said that when the virus and gluten enter the system simultaneously, the immune system thinks that the gluten-containing food is dangerous.
"We have been studying reovirus for some time, and we were surprised by the discovery of a potential link between reovirus and celiac disease," said Terence Dermody, according to New Atlas.
Next, the team examined the antibody levels to various viruses among humans. They discovered that patients with celiac disease show higher levels of reovirus-specific antibodies. The next stage of the study is likely to involve children who carry the risk genes. To protect them, they could be vaccinated against Reovirus.
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