Vaccine for celiac disease has sufferers worried

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live)- "If people didn't have to eat gluten free it would be good, I suppose. But at the same time, we want to make sure before we would support anything like that," Mark Mehl, owner of Mehl's Gluten-Free Bakery.

At least 3 million people in our country are living with celiac disease, which is an immune reaction to eating gluten.

An experimental vaccine named Nexvax2 is moving into phase two of trials.

The vaccine targets the immune system, with the intention of preventing inflammation that occurs when people with celiac eat gluten.

This trial vaccine is designed to build up a patients gluten tolerance and eliminate all the negative side effects by eating gluten foods.

Doctors say this vaccine isn't an instant fix for celiac disease sufferers and it's unclear how many vaccines a patient would need.

"I think anytime there's some kind of medical condition and you can fix it, that would be a good thing. But at this point, I am a little skeptical because if you fix one thing you can cause other problems," says Mehl.

A few other people who are living with the disease told Valley News Live the same thing.

They said they completely switched their lifestyle to be gluten free, so they wouldn't want to even risk it.

"It's going to be a big challenge thinking you have to switch back or could switch back. It'll be nice in some circumstances, however a lot of people aren't going to even want to risk it," says Mehl.

A doctor says it's unclear whether the vaccine will be able to rid a patient of gluten intolerance altogether or if it will simply weaken their symptoms.

"At this point we're not sure. We'll have to play it by ear," says Mehl.

But if this phase passes, doctors say it'll be a total game-changer for people who are living with celiac disease.

Doctors say the vaccine is designated to target 90% of celiac patients with the HLA-DQ2 genetic form of the disease.