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Virus infections may lead to gluten intolerance--study

A novel study cautions that virus infections might be one of the factors contributing to gluten intolerance.

Researchers at the Academy of Finland's Research Programme on Nutrition, Food and Health (ELVIRA) have found that the genes [basic, functional units of heredity, each occupying a specific place on a chromosome.] supposed to cause gluten intolerance (coeliac disease) are closely connected to the human immune defense system.

Virus infections as common as ear, nose, sore throat, sinusitis, common cold and throat infections can trigger conditions of gluten intolerance, claimed the study.

The study looked at thousands of people suffering from the disease, collecting data from nine unique populations.

Academy Research Fellow Päivi Saavalainen, who conducted the research into the hereditary risk factors for gluten intolerance, said: "Some of the genes we have identified are linked with human immune defence against viruses. This may indicate that virus infections may be connected in some way with the onset of gluten intolerance."

Though these genes are only one of the several factors behind gluten intolerance, their understanding can help scientists develop medicines for the incurable disease, bringing relief
to the millions of patients sustaining on a lifelong gluten-free diet.

The research would soon be published in the journal “Nature Genetics”.

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