Coeliacs rejoice: Australia is a step closer to a world-first coeliac vaccine.

A phase two clinical trial of the world’s first potential coeliac disease vaccine is beginning in Melbourne.

The vaccine, which could protect coeliac patients from harmful effects of gluten, will be trialled at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Clinical Trials Centre, before being rolled out in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Mackay and the Sunshine Coast.

The world-first vaccine Nexvax2 was tested during the first phase of the trial in Australia in 2011 and it is rolling into phase two.

It is hoped the vaccine will allow the reprogramming of the immune systems of those with coeliac disease, meaning they will no longer have an abnormal response to gluten.

Principal Investigator at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Head of Coeliac Research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Dr Jason Tye-Din, said patient participation was crucial to the success of the trials.

If successful, the treatment could become life-changing for people with coeliac disease.

“This trial is important in establishing clinical proof-of-concept for a treatment that would provide benefit beyond that of the gluten-free diet,” he said in a statement.

“The gluten-free diet is the only current treatment for coeliac disease but it is onerous, complex and not always effective. Even the most diligent patients can suffer the adverse effects of accidental exposure. This study will test if [the vaccine] Nexvax2 can specifically target the immune response to gluten in people with coeliac disease and modify the associated effects.”

The Royal Melbourne Hospital is now recruiting patients to take part in phase two.

Figures from Coeliac Australia said coeliac disease affects approximately one in 70 Australians, but around 80% of this number remain diagnosed.

For more information about the trial, click here.