A powerful anti-disease drug administered to cancer patients is offered to those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), helping to alleviate the most embarrassing and painful symptoms of the condition
A powerful anti-disease drug administered to cancer patients is offered to those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), helping to alleviate the most embarrassing and painful symptoms of the condition.
If a new successful trial succeeds, it could open the door to the first targeted treatment for the millions of British patients suffering from the digestive condition, which causes bloating, abdominal discomfort and urgent bowel movements.
One of the first patients to benefit, Karen Andrews, 57, is now almost symptom-free, having suffered from severe diarrhea for over three decades.
Former director of human resources, Burton Joyce, near Nottingham, said: "Wherever I went, I needed to plan meticulously to make sure I had quick and easy access to the bathroom.
"Anything I ate would go through me in about 30 minutes, and going out for a meal became an ordeal.
"The new treatment has transformed my life."
The researchers hope to recruit 400 volunteers over the age of 18 who have IBS to participate in the 12-week study. The study is called IBS Treatment with diarrhea with ondansetron titrated – TRITON.
Cancer medicine, ondansetron, works by blocking the activity of serotonin, a chemical produced by the brain, commonly associated with the mood but also secreted by the digestive system. If there is too much circulation in the intestine, it can trigger nausea and disease.
Professor Robin Spiller, a digestive health expert at the Nottingham Biomedical Research Center, led an investigator on the study, said: "Some IBS sufferers with diarrhea have an excess of serotonin in their intestine that stimulates frequent bowel movements . We want to find out if the ondansetron can work to block this effect. "
One in ten Britons suffers from IBS resulting in two million general medicine appointments a year
The distressing symptoms of IBS tend to come and go and can last days, weeks or months at a time. The exact cause is unknown – although the condition has been linked to hypersensitive nerves in the intestine, stress and a family history of IBS.
It is usually a permanent problem without treatment, but dietary changes and medication often help control symptoms.
The ondansetron has been administered to cancer patients for more than 30 years, as it helps control the nausea and disease caused by chemotherapy. A side effect was that it caused constipation.
In 2009 it was tested as a treatment for IBS with diarrhea in a small pilot study in 125 patients, which found that the drug reduced the frequency and urgency of the intestine.
About ten percent of the UK population suffers from IBS, with nearly two million GP appointments each year due to the condition. One-third of patients with IBS are urgently required as the main symptom.
Professor Spiller said: "Often, loperamide is given – also known as Imodium – which is effective but causes severe constipation. Furthermore, loperamide does not treat abdominal pain & # 39;.
Dr Dipesh Vasant, a gastroenterologist consultant at the NHS Foundation Trust at Manchester University, said the results of the new trial were eagerly awaited by gastroenterologists around the world.
He said: "Many patients with IBS suffer from overwhelming symptoms, including often uncontrollable diarrhea. These devastating symptoms can lead to embarrassment and social withdrawal."
Karen developed IBS after contracting a tummy bug on a vacation in Tunisia when she was 21 years old.
He said: "The condition has made my life a misery for 35 years. I could eat insipid foods like potatoes with simple potatoes, but spicy or processed foods would trigger the symptoms. Also pork, mushrooms and cauliflower.
"I often had to dose myself with Imodium before leaving home.
"When I started the experiment, I noticed the difference within a few days. I had less urgency, and a bit of pain went away. I just started feeling normal. I stopped worrying about where the nearest bathroom was . "
Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and London hospitals are participating in the TRITON study.
- You can find out if you qualify for ctru.leeds.ac.uk/triton.