Digestive Disease Week
Digestive Disease Week
June 17, 2019
2 min read

Portable gluten sensors may help improve quality of life in celiac disease

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SAN DIEGO — A handheld gluten sensor could improve quality of life by helping patients with celiac disease alleviate fears about eating at restaurants, according to study results presented at Digestive Disease Week.

“Research has linked diminished quality of life to the challenges of a strict gluten-free diet, currently the only treatment for celiac disease,” Randi L. Wolf, PhD, MPH, of Teachers College, Columbia University, said in her presentation. “Dining out is often cited as being particularly difficult due to worries about cross contact, distrust of the gluten-free menu or dismissive or uninformed staff.”

Wolf said more patients have started asking their physicians about the Nima device (Nima labs), but there is not any currently available data on its optimal use or its potential impact on clinical outcomes.

Researchers conducted a randomized, clinical pilot study comprising 30 patients with confirmed celiac disease (aged 13 to 70 years) to assess how individuals with celiac disease actually use the device and to find out particular benefits and barriers of its use.

Each patient received a Nima device, as well as a monthly allotment of single-use capsules based on randomization to low-, medium- and high-use individuals. Researchers educated patients on how to use the devices but gave them no advice or guidance on when or where to use it.

At baseline, investigators administered validated measures of celiac disease-specific quality of life (CDQOL), as well as measures of depression, anxiety and symptoms. They also collected patient opinions on closed and open-ended questions related to using the device.

After three months, researchers found that adults had improved CDQOL scores (54.5 vs. 45.7; P = .005), CDQOL limitation scores (48.8 vs. 37.2; P = .002) and celiac disease depression scores (11.3 vs. 15.3; P = .03) compared with baseline. There were no changes to adherence or symptoms among teenagers, and the capsule allotment had no link to differences in outcomes.

Both adults and teens reported that the device was easy to understand, helped them adhere to their diet and gave them peace of mind. It also helped them feel less limited because it allowed them to eat foods they otherwise would have avoided.

However, individuals reported that the capsules were hard to close and that it was time consuming to use the device. Some teenagers also reported that using the device made them anxious. Some patients also had trouble recalling some of the device’s limitations.

“Nima may be helpful to a subset of individuals with celiac disease to navigate the diet and improve quality of life,” Wolf said. “But this was a small pilot, and there is still much to learn about its optimal use and in what scenario.” - by Alex Young


Wolf RL, et al. Abstract 823. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 18-21, 2019; San Diego.

Disclosures: Wolf reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the meeting disclosure index for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.