TellSpec: Revolutionary Device for Celiacs?

Every once in a while, I stumble upon something in the crowd funding sites.  This time, it’s on the IndieGoGo site.  It’s a campaign for something called the TellSpec.  That doesn’t really tell you much.  Especially anything about why it might be revolutionary for Celiacs.

Try this on for size:

You want to know what’s in your food before you buy it, before you order it, and before you eat it – because your health depends on what you eat.

Many foods contain chemicals and allergens that we want to avoid. But it can be difficult to know whether these chemicals and allergens are in your food or not. How can you tell if your food contains the nutrients you need? What about things like sodium, gluten or trans fats that you might be trying to avoid? Food labels can give us some information if they’re available, but they are not always intelligible and some ingredients may not even be reported.

We have invented a system called TellSpec combining a spectrometer and a unique algorithm to tell you the allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, and ingredients in your food.

It’s small enough to fit on a keyring.  It communicates with your cell phone.  You push a button, it uses it’s spectrometer to get a reading off of the food, then sends that reading to a server.  That server puts the reading through it’s database, and returns a list of ingredients based on that reading.

TellspecPotentially, you could take a reading off of the food you’re about to eat at a restaurant, and know, nearly instantaneously, whether it contains any gluten.  If it delivers on that, it really would be revolutionary for anyone with Celiac Disease.

Of course, it will depend on just how sensitive it really is.  It can find the gluten in a slice of whole wheat bread, but can it find the gluten from a cross contamination?  Can it determine if the soup you’re about to eat was thickened with flour?  Can it tell you whether the seasoning on your steak contains gluten?  If it’s sensitive enough to do those things, it will truly be one of the most revolutionary things to happen for Celiacs in years.

Right now, you can contribute to the campaign and receive a TellSpec before they’re made available to the public.  It requires a $200 contribution, and only until about 195 more of the $200 contributions are made, then it will be going up to $250.  I didn’t see anything that indicated how much the price would be once it was available to the public.


Dr. Joseph A Murray MD – GIG Educational Conference – Fargo/Moorhead 2011

Dr. Joseph A Murray
Mayo Clinic (

Complications and outcomes of celiac disease
What happens after diagnosis

Before 1950
-key role in gluten in celiac disease was unknown. Therapy was low fat diet and vitamins
-Death was common
-emaciation due to persistent diarrhea
-dehydration and severe malnutrition
-high mortality in childhood
-mortality was approximately 36%, now, at about 0.4%

Howland, and 3-stage diet was done in 1929 and excluded carbohydrates rigorously. Was beginning of suspicion that there was something in carbohydrates. Before Gluten was discovered.

Because of villi damage, and inability to digest other foods after damage, many other foods have been blamed for symptoms. Carbohydrates aren’t to blame, Gluten is.

After 1950

-After description “wheat factor”: Mortality ~1%
-Malignant Lymphoma in CD (1957,1962)
-Cancer: big killer
-Death during adulthood
-Celiac not used as cause of death

Outcome is better now.
-recognition of gluten intolerance as a chronic and persistent order.
-discovery of gluten as the environmental factor responsible of celiac diseas

Self injury, willful ingestion of gluten is possible reason for increased mortality ratio.

Anger, denial, etc are part of the grieving process, but working towards an acceptance stage is necessary. Mental symptoms like ataxia are common symptoms and can cause psychological regression through process.

Patients die often from cardiovascular reasons. It’s no longer ok to just avoid gluten. You must avoid gluten healthfully. Be aware of ingredients other than gluten. Especially those high in salt, sugar, fat.

Older patients should get pneumonia shot at 50 and likely again at about 65 as risk of respiratory issues is higher in celiac. Shingles shot is important.

Lymphoma in Celiac
-2 studies
— Italy: increased risk of 3%
— Europe: increased risk of 2.6%

Standard of Care
-strict gluten free diet

Gluten free diet could be protective
-Improvement seen in biopsies after just a year
-Children heal faster, adults heal slower
-Healing is gradual, not all at once.
-Failure to heal can cause further issues

Undiagnosed mortality
-Warren Air Force Base Cohort
-8916 subjects
-Increased mortality rate of 4X in those with undiagnosed celiac

In another study, patients with undiagnosed celiac after age 50 had virtually no increased risk of mortality.

Only about 5% of undiagnosed celiacs will be diagnosed.

DQ2/8 test positive does not mean that you have Celiac.

-Gluten Free diet “changed the game”
-diagnosed celiac disease is associated with modest excess mortality


How to convince relatives to be tested?
Carefully. They don’t have a choice in whether they have Celiac or not, but they have a choice in whether they know or not.

Thanks Dr. Murray!

We Support - Support Gluten-Free Food Labeling



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