Coeliac UK, the largest independent charity for people who need to live gluten free, has launched a research fund and accompanying fundraising appeal, to raise £5 million to change the future for people with coeliac disease and gluten related autoimmune conditions.
The research appeal is being headed up by Coeliac UK’s patron, actor Caroline Quentin who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease three years ago. It will boost research efforts into key areas identified and agreed by patients, carers and healthcare professionals.
With the charity celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, there is a greater urgency to find better answers to the disease, which has links to other autoimmune conditions such as Type 1 diabetes and autoimmune thyroid disease and still relies on the gluten free diet as its only treatment.
Coeliac UK has already committed over £2 million to research projects since 2005 including ground breaking discoveries such as identifying genes associated with coeliac disease and other autoimmune conditions related to gluten. It also funded research towards a vaccine to restore immune tolerance to gluten.
Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK said: “50 years ago little was known about coeliac disease and people wrongly thought children would grow out of the autoimmune disease. half a million people remain undiagnosed and we need more support to help them get diagnosed and managing their condition with a gluten free diet. It is possible through further research, that finding the answers to coeliac disease could enable answers to other devastating autoimmune conditions such as Type 1 diabetes. But, we also know that there needs to be a more permanent solution to this complex disease so we are boosting our research efforts and awareness raising as part of our 50th anniversary activities,”