...it's been so long. my magical wireless internet connection decided to take a brief trip to hawaii or someone else's apartment and gave up on attending to my computer. luckily, my trusty ol' mac and the invisible cable have once again commenced holding hands and telling stories.
i know that a bunch of my posts lately have been about medical news. this post will not be any different. but it's interesting stuff, i promise you.
it seems that a team of scientists have found 7 more gene regions that are linked to celiac disease. these are added to the 2 already on record, making an even stronger case that this issue is passed down genetically. here's how those little genetic guys break down:
3 of these regions indicate risk for development of the disease;
6 gene regions are located in areas "critical in the control of immune response;" and
4 of these areas are also known to indicate a predisposition for type 1 diabetes.
obviously there are a few gene regions that have been found guilty of more than one offense, and the role they play with regard to our health is an extremely complicated one. i have no idea how these scientists come to these conclusions, but either way this could be an interesting way to discover if your are, in fact, celiac positive, or find if your colicky infant is crying over a gluten-pained tummy.
perhaps the most common medical means of discovering gluten intolerance (beyond the elimination diet) is through an endoscopy and intestinal biopsy. for those of us that have actually been through these procedures we know that it's not a particularly pleasant way to spend a saturday afternoon. but there's a new way of making this discovery, and it doesn't involve that yuck numbing spray in the back of your throat.
well, if you have issue swallowing pills, perhaps that numbing spray is for you.
they have a little camera capsule, that's the size of a large vitamin (yikes!). once gulped it will record the entirety of your stomach and small intestine, and reveal how severe the gluten damage is the whole way through. according to a study by the mayo clinic, the vast majority of untreated, celiac positive patients have scarring in the first half of this organ, and only for an extreme few can gluten's footprints be seen in the second half.
the clinic discovered through these trials that the degree of intestinal damage in no way correlates with the severity of the patient's symptoms. this means that you can practically be on death's doorstep each time you look at a gluten-infested food, but your innards will not show any battle scars. i don't know about you, but my instinct would tell me the opposite. obviously, a retest showed after 6 months of treatment (aka: a gluten free diet) that the damage had begun to heal.
there are plans to use this capsule-type endoscopy for future diagnosis of the disease. the capsule itself is comprised of a color video camera, light, battery and transmitter -- hopefully with an easy-to-choke-down coating. the images recorded by this device are transmitted to a series of sensors attached to the body, and then these messages are recorded in a device that is worn around the waist. my favorite part of this article is how it breezes over the fact that "the recording device is removed..." ah, so nonchalant. you have to love science to sign on for that one. well, regardless of how the little bugger is retrieved, its contents are eventually uploaded into a computer so that they may be studied.
let's just hope those capsules are not reusable.