laboratory assistant analysing a blood sample
laboratory assistant analysing a blood sample

Researchers get the drop on coeliac disease

A QUEENSLAND research team has found a single drop of blood could be the key in ­giving those with coeliac disease an early diagnosis.

The study, trialled on 264 patients at Wesley Medical Research, could be groundbreaking for people who spend years waiting for a diagnosis.

Some patients wait between three and 13 years for a diagnosis, as coeliac disease has symptoms similar to many other health issues and can be difficult to spot.

After taking a drop of blood, researchers should have a clear result within 10 minutes and can identify patients who need further tests for coeliac disease. Lead investigator Dr James Daveson said there was a strong genetic link in coeliac disease, with immediate family members having a one in 10 chance of having the disease, with daughters more likely.

"The impact of this technology could lead to a simpler, faster diagnosis - an important step in a timely and accurate diagnosis," he said.

One patient who was part of the trial, Holly Evans, is an example of the genetic link. She participated in the research when her father was diagnosed in September.

"This test has changed my life," she said. "When I received a positive pinprick test result it caused me to investigate further, thankfully I did."

Ms Evans found out she sustained significant damage to her small bowel from undiagnosed coeliac disease.

"Without this initial test, I wouldn't have done an endoscopy and I would not have been diagnosed so early."

The Queensland research comes during Coeliac Awareness Week. "This trial is raising awareness of the importance of family screening and already improving the lives of Australians with coeliac disease by helping patients like Holly to an early diagnosis," Coeliac Australia chief executive Michelle Laforest said.