Collaboration will tackle coeliac disease

Wednesday, 17 June, 2020

Collaboration will tackle coeliac disease

A multiyear research collaboration between Monash University and Janssen Biotech aims to advance our understanding of the immune mechanisms behind coeliac disease and inform the development of new ways to diagnose and treat the condition.

The collaboration was facilitated by Monash Innovation, part of the Enterprise portfolio at Monash University, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC, and will be led by Professor Jamie Rossjohn from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

Coeliac disease affects approximately 1% of the world’s population, occurring when dietary gluten (a food protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats) triggers a damaging immune response that attacks the body. Coeliac disease is associated with a range of health problems and often causes digestive symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. It can also cause anaemia, low iron levels and excessive tiredness and is associated with osteoporosis, other autoimmune disease, infection and some types of cancer.

Providing a definitive diagnosis to coeliac disease currently entails invasive biopsy, so improved diagnostics and treatments are urgently needed. Currently, the only approved treatment is a gluten-free diet and there is no known cure.

With the disease affecting about one in 70 Australians and around 80% of this number undiagnosed, the vast majority of Australians who have coeliac disease are unaware they have it.

Enterprise Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan said the research agreement with Janssen is another example of Monash actively engaging with industry to explore new avenues.

“Monash University remains committed to moving research forward for the betterment of human health, creating new avenues and opportunities that may lead to tangible benefits for the broader community,” Professor Sloan said.

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute Director Professor John Carroll said the collaboration brings together leading researchers and industry partners to tackle this major health issue that affects so many individuals around the world.

“This collaboration is another example of how Monash BDI’s strong clinical relationships and industry engagement aim to accelerate the development of diagnostic and preventative treatments,” Professor Carroll said.

Professor Rossjohn added, “The team at Monash, including Dr Hugh Reid, Professor Nicole La Gruta and Professor Tony Purcell, look forward to working alongside Janssen colleagues to develop innovative immunotherapeutics to prevent and treat coeliac disease.”

Image credit: ©

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