Promoting Canadian Oats

Kellogg Company, a food manufacturing company has introduced a series of cereals, granolas and muesli that features ancient and traditional grains including oats combined with a variety of seeds, nuts and fruits. For more information on the Kellogg’s Origins visit:

Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten. Although gluten is not present in oats, traditionally oats were not recommended as they were often processed in facilities with gluten products. Researchers are working on ways for people with the disease to lessen the effects of gluten.

A revolutionary “gluten pill” developed by University of Alberta researchers means breads, cakes and pastas are back on the menu for those suffering from celiac disease.

Made from the yolks of chicken eggs, the natural supplement prevents the absorption of gliadin, a component of gluten that people with celiac disease can’t digest properly.

Developed by Hoon Sunwoo, an associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and colleague Jeong Sim, a retired professor from the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, the supplement is expected to help countless people who are forced to carefully plan meals due to gluten intolerance.

“This is the chicken egg yolk antibody, and we dried it to make it powder form,” Sunwoo said.

“The powder has the egg yolk antibody which can neutralize or capture the gluten in the food. So people who are concerned about food containing gluten can take this pill before meals.”

Those suffering from celiac disease experience anemia, headaches, fatigue and bloating because gluten damages the absorptive surface of the small intestine. One in 133 people in Canada are affected by the disease, and must avoid gluten, a binding agent found in wheat, barley and other common foods.

Sunwoo said the product must still undergo human clinical trials and approval from Health Canada before hitting store shelves.

“This is not a drug, this is a food supplement that will be over the counter so it will be available for everyone,” he said.

“In two years, I expect this product to be available on the market for a reasonable, affordable cost.”

Edmonton: University of Alberta researchers may have found a way to help people with celiac disease enjoy the wide variety of foods they normally have to shun.

Hoon Sunwoo, an associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleague Jeong Sim, a retired professor from the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences, have developed a natural supplement from the yolks of chicken eggs that prevents the absorption of gliadin, a component of gluten that people with celiac disease have difficulty digesting.

“This supplement binds with gluten in the stomach and help to neutralize it, therefore providing defence to the small intestine, limiting the damage gliadin causes,” said Sunwoo. “It is our hope that this supplement will improve the quality of life for those who have celiac disease and gluten intolerance.”

According to the Canadian Celiac Association, one in 133 people in Canada are affected by celiac disease, a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. Those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance suffer from symptoms including anemia, headaches, bloating and fatigue. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley among other foods, is a common binding agent used to increase the elasticity of food.

Sunwoo became interested in the disease after learning his friend and his friend’s family suffered from it.

“I wanted to learn more about why some people cannot tolerate gluten and if there was a way to reduce the symptoms,” he said. “With gluten present in so much of our food, I wanted to find a way to improve the quality of life for my friend, his family and others.” The research may prove to be welcome news for celiac patients in Canada and around the world. The next step is an efficacy trial, slated to happen within the next year.

Following that, the supplement could be available within three years. Sunwoo and Sim have partnered with IGY Inc. and Vetanda Group through an agreement with TEC Edmonton to bring the supplement to market.

“This collaboration gives us the opportunity to change the lives of those suffering with a debilitating autoimmune condition,” said Vetanda Group communications director Claire Perry. “Our groundbreaking new health product has the potential to offer more dietary freedom and, overall, a much better quality of life for gluten-intolerant individuals. The product could be available to celiac sufferers in Canada within three years, paving the way for testing and product approval in the United States and Europe.”

TEC Edmonton, a partnership of the U of A and Edmonton Economic Development that helps commercialize research from the university, is proud to be a part of the collaboration.

"The University of Alberta is home to world-class researchers in the fields of immunology, biotechnology and food science,” said Jay Kumar, vice-president of technology management at TEC Edmonton. “The investment by Vetanda, based in England, demonstrates that the world is watching.”

Parts of the research were also supported by grants from Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education.

Sunwoo also credits the U of A for being an integral part of his work’s success. “The University of Alberta is an incredible place to do research. Our lab in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is top-notch, and I am pleased to have the support and funding to continue to work towards improving the quality of life for those who suffer from celiac disease and gluten intolerance.”

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New category of "gluten-free" claims allowed for specially produced oats

To mark Celiac Awareness Month, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health today announced changes that will result in more safe food choices for Canadians with celiac disease by approving "gluten-free" claims on specially produced oats and foods containing these oats.

Gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye and barley are widely used in the production of many foods. People with celiac disease must avoid eating the gluten protein found in these grains to manage their condition. In the case of oats, normal agricultural practices can result in the unintended presence of small amounts gluten from other grains. However, recent evidence shows that oats can safely be consumed by the majority of people with celiac disease, as long as they have been produced and processed to avoid cross-contamination by gluten from other cereals. Health Canada will now allow specially produced oats with trace amounts of gluten to carry a "gluten-free" claim.