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PROEUHEALTH - The Food, GI-tract Functionality and Human Health Cluster

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Consumer Platform > PROGID
Probiotics and Gastrointestinal disorders - controlled trials of European Patients

Most of us at some time or another have suffered the stress and ignominy of a sudden and severe attack of diarrhoea. Fortunately, for most us these incidents are relatively infrequent and the effects short lived. However, for between 50-200 people per 100 000 in the US and Europe, bouts of diarrhoea, abdominal pain, reduced appetite and general tiredness, can be a life-long affliction. These people suffer from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, chronic inflammatory diseases of the gut collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). In both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis sufferers undergo periods of remission where they feel completely well in between relapsing flare-ups of the intestinal symptoms.

Although susceptibility to IBD can be inherited, the exact causes of IDB are unknown and currently there is no cure. Treatments include anti-inflammatory steroids and, in severe cases, surgery to remove affected sections of the intestine, both of which have unwanted side-effects. Many researchers think that the intestinal inflammation in IBD results from an overzealous reaction of the immune system to certain bacteria in our intestinal tract that our body usually ignores. Therefore, it might be possible to alter the microbial ecosystem in the gastrointestine using probiotics to prevent this abnormal immune response from occurring.

In this project clinical trials are being conducted to see if probiotics can extend or even maintain remission in volunteers suffering from IBD. The types of bacteria present in the intestines of the volunteers are also being examined to try to identify particular bacteria that might play a role in causing IBD. This may lead to the future development of new and safe treatments for IBD sufferers.


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