Yes, the research is early, but moving rapidly. They start with animals, but are moving on to humans. Both genetic predisposition and enviromental influences (in this case, gluten/casein)play a role. Celiac Disease, the only autoimmune disease with a KNOWN cause (dietary gluten (wheat, rye, barley), carries a very strong genetic predisposition. 95% of all celiacs have one of two genetic types, but it takes ingestion of dietary gluten to set the disease in motion. And while 30% of the population has the genetic predisposition, only 1% of the population has Celiac Disease, although estimates of gluten sensitivity are suspected to be as high as 30% by some researchers.
Did you see the information on zonulin, a regulator of the intestinal and blood/brain barrier? People with celiac disease, MS, and diabetes have higher than normal levels of zonulin, and gluten ingestion does seem to trigger higher production of zonulin in some people.
There is a zonulin blocking drug in clinical phases, being fast tracked. IF there is a drug to be developed, the research moves quickly! If the research is limited to dietary changes, it doesn't move as quickly...although there was a clinical trial for removing casein from the diets of children predisposed to type 1 diabetes. It is very difficult to have controlled studies involving dietary regulation because it is almost impossible to monitor compliance (and funding is limited if there isn't a potential drug to be developed). However, there are many studies which show gluten (and casein (milk) sensitivity) in those with autoimmune disease. Association does not prove cause...but the research keeps moving forward. Much more research on gluten than casein.
Anyway, there is a huge amount of research looking this direction~ with intestinal permeability setting the stage for the development of food sensitivity, and when those food proteins escape the gut...they trigger 'autoimmune' diseases such as diabetes, MS, gluten ataxia, and others. Again, this is PROVEN in Celiac Disease, and they are just starting to question whether food sensitivity might play a role in other autoimmune disease. I have been following this research for the past five years since finding my daughters are gluten sensitive. We have a family history of lots of autoimmune thyroid disease, and my father is insulin dependent diabetic. I never would have guessed that food sensitivity might be the culprit, but the evidence keeps coming in.
On zonulin and diabetes~
While there are no reports of Type 1 Diabetes reversing on a gluten free diet, there are some reports of other autoimmune disease improving on a gluten free diet (sometimes casein free, too).
However, in some cases, the damage is done and cannot be reversed. This seems to be the case for Diabetes. Time will tell if the zonulin blocker can actually prevent diabetes if at risk patients are identified before it is too late.
Food for thought!