New centre for coeliac disease launched in Sheffield

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SUFFERERS of a disease which can bring about serious illness just by eating everyday foods are to get extra help understanding their condition following the launch of a specialist centre.

The Sheffield Institute of Gluten-Related Disorders has been set up by researchers and academics to improve diagnosis of coeliac disease, through increased recognition of symptoms.

The condition is an autoimmune disease caused when the body’s immune system reacts to gluten found in wheat, rye and barley - and if left untreated, it can cause severe health problems, such as infertility, osteoporosis and bowel cancer.

Keeping to a strict, gluten-free diet is currently the only known treatment.

Mike Davidson, aged 65, from Dronfield, was diagnosed in his 50s, and said he thought it was ‘great’ the centre had been set up.

“Like most people I hadn’t heard of coeliac disease and didn’t have a clue about gluten-free diets, but I was lucky - I went to give blood and they said I could no longer do so because I was anaemic.

“This led to a whole series of tests and I was diagnosed with the disorder, but some people can be really ill with it and never know they have the illness.”

After cutting gluten out of his diet, Mike’s condition eventually improved and he was able to give blood again, but still needs to be advised on which foods he can eat.

The institute has been set up at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital by Professors Marios Hadjivassiliou and Dave Sanders.

Prof Hadjivassiliou, a consultant neurologist, said he hoped to develop the organisation into a ‘research powerhouse’.