New research suggests link between reovirus and celiac disease

After a short hiatus from my blog, I am back! I took this break unintentionally, which stemmed from the stresses of finishing college, but I am now graduated with a BA in Mass Communication from University of Maine! I finally feel ready to dive back into my blog.

Something I’ve been wanting to discuss is a news story from April regarding new research that suggests celiac disease could be caused by the trigger of a virus. A news article by Science Alert from April 6th explains that there is newfound early evidence from research that suggests that a harmless virus could trigger celiac disease, because the virus causes the immune system to turn against itself. The widespread belief is that celiac disease is genetic, which is what research has been focusing on up until recently.

The virus is called reovirus, and research suggests that early infection plays a role in triggering the celiac autoimmune disease. If this research is proven, it could lead to new treatment options or even a vaccine. There is currently no cure or effective treatment for celiac beyond the gluten free diet.

While previous research has found links between viruses and celiac, this is the first time researchers have confirmed this hypothesis through experimentation.  The researchers showed that by giving mice the human strain of reovirus, it could trigger celiac disease in them. While the research has yet to be taken further, it is part of growing research that also suggests other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, could be caused by outside pathogens.

The research is not suggesting that the virus itself could be enough to trigger celiac, but combined with genetic factors it might.  This would make sense particularly if the virus was introduced to a baby or young child being exposed to gluten for the first time.

Autoimmune disorders and celiac, as well as gluten intolerance have been on the rise in recent years, so there is also a possibility that there could be an environmental factor as well.

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Chloe Dyer

About Chloe Dyer

Chloe graduated from UMaine Orono with a BA in Mass Communication and a minor in Political Science. In addition to writing for the BDN, she has been Editor in Chief of Her Campus UMaine, Contributing Editor of Odyssey UMaine, and a Staff Writer for The Maine Campus . She has known about her Celiac Disease for about two years and has been eating gluten free as well as sometimes dairy free. She is from Chebeague Island, Maine, where she grew up, but has also lived in Cleveland, Ohio, and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria in addition to Orono.