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  4. Osteoporosis in coeliac disease associated with novel autoantibodies

Osteoporosis in coeliac disease associated with novel autoantibodies

Principal investigator: Dr Philip Riches, Consultant Rheumatologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Institution: Rheumatology Group, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

Research classification: Management of coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis

Project start & duration: 1 April 2013 (44 months)

Grant awarded: £80k (jointly funded with CORE – a charity fighting gut and liver disease)

The outcomes of this research could form the basis of a simple blood test to identify those patients with coeliac disease who require additional investigation and/or more active treatment for the complications of osteoporosis. The study will also aim to identify other useful predictors of the complications of coeliac disease.

Osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones, is a common complication of coeliac disease, though it is often difficult to predict which patients will develop the condition.

A patient with coeliac disease who developed very severe osteoporosis had a protein in the blood that caused rapid bone breakdown. This patient did not respond to a change in diet and calcium supplementation but needed a powerful drug to prevent bone thinning.

This protein has found to be raised in some patients attending routine coeliac clinics. This study is to establish whether elevated levels of this protein can help identify coeliac patients with an increased risk of severe osteoporosis.

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