Coeliac Sprue (CS), one of the most common food intolerances in western culture, is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. A gluten-free diet has been the only treatment option available to patients up to this point.
Writing in the February issue of the Applied and Environmental Microbiology, researchers at the Institute of Sciences of Food Production in Bari, Italy, the European Laboratory for Food Induced Disease in Naples and the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University College Cork in Ireland said that they set out to produce a sourdough, made from a mixture of wheat (30 per cent) and non-toxic oat, millet, and buckwheat flours started with lactobacilli, that would be tolerated by CS people.
"The selected sourdough lactobacilli had specialised peptidases capable of hydrolysing Pro-rich peptides, including the 33-mer peptide, the most potent inducer of gut-derived human T-cell lines in CS patients," write the researchers.
Conclusions drawn from the small study on just 17 patients find "that designing a bread biotechnology that uses selected lactobacilli, nontoxic flours, and a long fermentation time could be a novel tool for decreasing the level of gluten intolerance in humans", said the study authors.
Gluten is widely used in the food industry however approximately coeliac disease currently affects one million European consumers .
Full findings for the study are published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology, February 2004, p. 1088-1096, Vol. 70, No. 2.