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Celiac Disease Facts

  • Celiac disease is a chronic, life-long, systemic autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically susceptible individuals
  • Celiac disease is associated with certain genes on Chromosome 6 (HLA genotype DQ2 or DQ8) that are responsible for regulating the body's immune response to gluten
  • Approximately 1%-2% of the U.S. and worldwide population are affected with celiac disease
  • In patients with celiac disease, local damage to the intestine is caused by an autoimmune reaction triggered by ingestion of gluten
  • Systemic autoimmune inflammation and tissue damage
  • Gluten is the common term for a set of proteins that come from grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley
  • Intestines damaged by the immunological reaction to gluten do not function correctly, leading to inadequate absorption of nutrients and a wide range of clinical symptoms
  • Celiac disease symptoms can appear at any time during a person's life; initial onset can be in childhood/adolescence or in adulthood
  • Common symptoms of celiac disease include:
    • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas
    • Diarrhea, constipation or both
    • Weight loss
    • Anemia
    • Very itchy, blistering, skin rash, frequently found on the face, elbows, knees and buttocks (dermatitis herpetiformis)
    • Elevated liver enzyme levels
    • Hair loss
  • Celiac disease can result in serious long-term side consequences:
    • Bone abnormalities (osteoporosis)- increased risk of fracture
    • Failure to thrive in infants
    • Delayed growth in children
    • Infertility, miscarriage, birth defects
    • Cancer (lymphoma, adenocarcinoma can develop in the intestine)
    • Other autoimmune diseases
    • Increased mortality
  • The only currently available intervention for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet.
  • Adherence to a gluten-free diet is very difficult because gluten is a "hidden" ingredient in most processed foods; for example, frozen vegetables in sauce, self-basting turkey, cold cuts, seasoned tortilla chips, artificial and natural flavors, sauces, cooking ingredients, etc. may contain gluten.
  • It is very important for patients with celiac disease to read the ingredient labels on all food items to make sure the item does not include any gluten-containing ingredients. However, many sources of gluten remain unlabeled and are hidden in foods
  • Certain cosmetics and medications also contain gluten
  • Gluten can be present in foods that are, themselves, gluten-free as a result of cross-contamination or contact with gluten-containing foods during preparation, cooking, or storage

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Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
75 Shoreway Rd., Suite B
San Carlos, CA 94070
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Business Inquiries

Kirk Essenmacher, M.D., M.B.A.
T: (650) 596-2434
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