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New IBS drug trialled in UK

Thursday 25th April 2019
Blautix, a new medication for IBS, works by attempting to balance the body’s gut bacteria in order to reduce bloating and pain.
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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an unpleasant condition for sufferers, leading to cramps, bloating and digestive issues. The cause is not fully known, but a new medicine has been developed that could help address the symptoms by rebalancing the bacteria that live in human intestines.

Blautix, which has been developed by British biotechnology firm 4D pharma, consists of capsules containing the bacteria Blautia hydrogenotrophica. This microorganism uses hydrogen as an energy source, absorbing it from its surroundings, which enables it to take in the hydrogen sulphide gas from the intestines of IBS sufferers.

This gas is responsible for the pain and bloating that many IBS sufferers have to deal with, so it is hoped the bacteria will alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease. It also helps with the production of acetate in the gut, which in turn creates a healthier and more diverse range of microorganisms in the intestines.

It is thought that as many as 20 per cent of people suffer from IBS, so this medicine could potentially be a significant positive change. A clinical trial is about to be carried out in Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. It will consist of 500 patients, who will be given either Blautix or a placebo.

Trials of the medication have already been carried out, with the results being presented at Digestive Disease Week in Washington DC. The medicine was found to lead to a healthier range of gut bacteria in IBS sufferers, with 82 per cent reporting an improvement in their symptoms compared to 50 per cent of those who took a placebo.

“Recent research suggests patients with IBS do have altered gut microbiota compared to people with healthy digestion,” said Dr Jason Dunn, consultant gastroenterologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. “There is great interest in treatments like this to modulate the microbiota, though the current evidence that these are effective in improving symptoms remains limited.”

Written by James Puckle

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