alvine pharmaceuticals, a company that has made the move to treat celiac with a pill (ah, how 21st century), has just received 2 patents for a new drug therapy for the disease. from what i can gather from the press release, the drug that's currently in testing is composed of a protease and endopeptidase, whose jobs it is to break down gluten and render it powerless. in other words, it digests the protein and makes it into something that your immune system isn't going to react to. in my mind, this is similar to a lactaid pill, which provides your body with digestive enzymes which break down those irritating milk sugars that can bother individuals that don't produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme on their own. while a lactose intolerance isn't an immune intolerance or allergy issue outright (it can be caused by such a problem at its root, but it is not --in and of itself-- an immune-related response), this concept of supplementing enzymes to break down an offending substance is similar to what i believe is the function of the gluten-digesting pill.
since this pill is designed to be used to break down the gluten before your body ingests it, i think it's safe to assume that it is not meant as a treatment for acute symptoms. this can only mean that when you absolutely must scarf down that slice of whole wheat bread, you take the pill along with it. huh? i suppose it could be useful if you're going out to dinner with your boss and don't want to make a scene, and so you lean over at the table and pretend to rummage through your purse, while secretly popping a pill and grinning as you take a swig of ice water. then you wouldn't have to worry about potentially getting ill from that work lunch and being found curled and incoherent under your desk later in the day. ok. i'll give it credit as a back-up, emergency plan, but how many of us really NEED to snack on wheaty stuff with such a burning desire that we're willing to pop pills? since a gluten intolerance can be treated through avoidance with amazing success (duh), you can be pretty sure that insurance companies aren't going to cover the stuff. plus, it'll be interesting to see if there are any side effects, or if it will really work for those with extremely severe intolerances.
don't sign me up for the test run. i'll just keep chugging along the way i've been, thank you. don't pass the bread.