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Alessio Fasano - Spectrum of Gluten-Related Disorders: People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone

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Published on Jan 21, 2014

The cultivation of gluten-containing grains that were the backbone of the agricultural revolution have also brought with them the manifestation of conditions related to negative reactions to gluten. These include celiac disease, wheat allergy and the "new kid on the block" of the spectrum of gluten-related disorders—gluten sensitivity. The autoimmune disorder of celiac disease is the most widely studied condition on the spectrum. It affects approximately 1 in 133 people, a rate that has doubled in the U.S. every 15 years over the past 35 years. An estimate from the Center for Celiac Research puts gluten sensitivity at 6% of the U.S. population. With current interest in the human genome and microbiome, research is leading scientists to examine the relationship between the intestinal microbiome and gluten-related disorders. Currently the gluten-free diet is the only available treatment for gluten-related disorders.

World-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist, research scientist, and entreprenuer Alessio Fasano, M.D., founded the Center for Celiac Research in 1996. The Center offers state-of-the art research, clinical expertise and teaching for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity. Trained in Naples, Italy, as a pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Fasano was recruited to the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1993 and founded its Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. Puzzled by the absence of children exhibiting symptoms of celiac disease in the clinic, he resolved to uncover the mystery of missing American "celiacs." His perseverance in the face of skepticism about celiac disease in the U.S. eventually led to his publication of the groundbreaking study in 2003 that established the rate of the autoimmune disorder at one in 133 Americans.

In early 2013, Dr. Fasano was appointed Division Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. He brought the Center for Celiac Research to Boston, where he heads the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, based in Charlestown, and is Associate Chief for Basic, Clinical and Translational Research for the Department of Pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. He is a Visiting Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

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