UW developing pill for gluten intolerance, other innovations


by KING 5 HealthLink


Posted on May 6, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Updated Thursday, May 8 at 1:28 PM

You could call it an adult science fair: University of Washington entrepreneurs and students displayed new ways to reboot damaged hearts, save lives in the E.R. and prevent severe reactions to gluten.

Solution for heart failure

BEAT BioTherapeutics is looking for a different treatment for heart failure by focusing on ways to make the remaining cells stronger.

"Its really surprising to everyone how quickly this performance enhancement occurs. I mean we're talking weeks, perhaps months," said Michael Kranda, BEAT BioTherapeutics CEO. "And it appears to last."

Animal studies are promising and human testing could begin in 2016.

Saving lives in the emergency room

One in four trauma patients arrives at the E.R. with blood that is not able to clot. But how do you tell who those patients are?

“It’s easy to diagnose bleeding from an external wound. But, internal bleeding is very difficult because you don’t know where is that leak,” said Nate Sniadecki, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington.

The fix: an on-site test that takes just minutes to perform.

“When you’ve got a wound, the platelets are there to plug a hole,” said Sniadecki.

If a microclot forms on the device, then a transfusion is not needed.

“We’re able to diagnose fairly quickly whether you have a problem or not and what intervention needs to be done,”said  Lucas Ting, PhD, Stasys medical corporation.

Clinical trials begin early 2015.

Pill for gluten intolerance

Gluten is a public enemy to those with celiac disease.

"I've actually heard a lot of stories from people with celiac disease saying 'oh we went to such and such a place and they told me it was gluten free but the soy sauce must have had gluten because then I was in the hospital for a couple of days.' That's ruining your trip," said Ingrid Swanson Pultz, PhD, KunaMax/oral enzyme therapeutic.

Graduate students are working on creating a pill for those who are lactose intolerant.

“We need to be able to break down gluten in the stomach before it gets to the intestines and causes problems,” said Swanson.

They are using what looks like a video game to generate connections between gluten and an engineered enzyme with a goal to disarm the gluten. The gluten-neutralizing pill is about two years away from clinical trials.