New approach for coeliac disease
Coeliac disease, an autoimmune illness in the small intestine, causes much discomfort to patients across Europe as well as serious symptoms for children and long-term sufferers. Patients are forced to adopt a very limiting gluten-free diet. The EU-funded project Cdeussa aimed to improve prevention, treatment and healthcare issues related to the disease. The project worked on linking different research areas related to the disease, including genetics, immunology and cereal chemistry, keeping in mind that cereals are heavily implicated in how this disease progresses. The novel approach also involved factoring in social and clinical issues such as epidemiology, preventive medicine and curative medicine. To achieve its aims the project team created a platform of 110 members from 28 European countries in fields such as public health, ethics, genetics, immunology, nutrition and government. It also published the latest data on coeliac disease to map future research in Europe, focusing on more effective prevention and treatment. The initiative was coupled with a public awareness campaign to highlight this relatively common yet often unrecognised illness. In addition, the team organised two workshops in 2006 that gathered key experts and stakeholders linked to the field, from doctors to patient organisations. The first workshop was on 'Integrated knowledge on coeliac disease: identification and opportunities', while the second focused on novel research strategies for treatment and prevention. These workshops explored genetic determinants, lifestyle and immunological pathways in prevention, as well as new treatment strategies and development of an animal model for gluten sensitivity. In essence, the project strove to enhance the quality of life of Europeans through better prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as upgrade patient care. Its results could potentially bring relief to hundreds of thousands of Europeans, while providing cutting-edge research data to the rest of the world to follow suit.