Who would have put the Vatican, stem cell research and celiac disease together??  Apparently Dr. Alessio Fasano at the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore  did — and it worked!!  So much so the Vatican gave a hefty donation to the project.

Stem cell research has long been denounced by the Vatican, but that’s when researchers proposed harvesting embryonic stem cells.  But Dr. Fasano, Director  at UMB’s Center for Celiac Research and lead scientist on this project has convinced the Vatican of a different kind of stem cell research — this one could help celiacs and other patients.

While the researchers, organizers and the Catholic church will meet today for a media briefing at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time, here’s what we know so far about the research, the Vatican’s involvement and how it may affect those with celiac disease.

Vatican donation to UMB

The Associated Press reported the Vatican agreed to donate $2.7 Million to the research that will involve harvesting adult stem cells from the intestine and studying them. Why the turnaround?  The Vatican told ABC News, it’s all in the  adult stem cells. The Vatican says it supports stem cell research “that is ethical, not harming human life, no matter the source of the cells”.

While embryonic stem cells are the most versatile — transforming themselves into many different kinds of cells — Dr. Fasano believes adult stem cells found in the intestine could have the potential for versatility (and subsequent greatness) as well — possibly helping people with Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and yes, celiac disease.  The news release sent out by the University of Maryland says, “It is likely the first treatments that might result from the research would help patients with intestinal disorders such as celiac disease.”

UMB and Celiac Disease

The University of Maryland Baltimore is doing great things for celiac research.  Don’t forget it was UMB’s research that in 2003 revealed approximately 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease (more common than Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis and cystic fibrosis combined)!  Plus it is UMB’s Center for Celiac Research who we raise money for at the annual Walk/Run for Celiac Disease being held in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities — specifically, Victoria, Minnesota — on May 15th!

UMB is doing good things and trying to find either a cure or at least a pill to ease symptoms to those who accidentally eat gluten.  To the hundreds of families in Minnesota who deal with celiac disease every day, and the hundreds more yet to be diagnosed, this research could lead us to great places.  It will be fun to watch it develop.

…Now if we could just convince the Vatican to allow gluten-free communion wafers… — Hey a girl can dream can’t she?

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One Response to “Vatican, Stem Cell Research & Celiac Disease”

  1. our Church has GF communion wafers. They offer it at just one EM and it is in it’s own special container. Ask your Church, I bet they can get them. Our Church is Holy Name of Jesus in Wayzata (Medina).

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