The new approach is likely to be more user-friendly for patients as it is less invasive than conventional screening, which relies on biopsy.
The enzyme transglutaminase elicits a specific immune response that underlies celiac disease.
Luis Sorell and colleagues from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Havana, Cuba, describe a simple and rapid test that can detect these specific antibodies in the blood of patients with celiac disease.
The test, called an "immunochromatographic assay", is a nitrocellulose strip with two zones, one reactive, and the other a control.
|The new test can give a result in just 10 minutes.
| Lancet |
When the strip is dipped in serum or plasma, a positive result - indicating the presence of antibodies to transglutaminase - is seen as two dots on the strip.
A negative assay shows only a control dot. Results are obtained in less than 10 minutes.
Results from the test were positive for all samples from 50 untreated celiac patients, and negative for 40 non-celiac patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
Commenting on the new screen Luis Sorell said, "This immunochromatographic assay detects antibodies to transglutaminase quickly and easily."
"It is highly accurate in detection of untreated patients with celiac disease, and detects both IgA and IgG antibodies to transglutaminase, which prevents misdiagnosis of patients with a deficit of IgA, a frequent trait of celiac disease."
He continued, "The assay can be done in a doctor's surgery, and seems to be a useful alternative way to screen for celiac disease, especially in patients with few, or with untypical, symptoms, and in high risk groups - i.e. people with insulin-dependent diabetes, Down's syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and first degree relatives of patients with celiac disease."