IBS: a cluster of gut-related diseases

IBS: a cluster of gut-related diseases
Researchers from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute in New South Wales believe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a collection of gut-related diseases, rather than one illness.

"We found a particular gene that's linked to IBS and it appears to be important in some people with this disease. It's actually a mutation,” pro vice-chancellor of global research at Newcastle University, Professor Nicholas Talley said.

Researchers now believe IBS is caused by people being genetically pre-disposed to gut issues; patients developing the condition after a gut infection; and some people having a chronic gut infection that causes the symptoms.

Professor Talley says 1 in 10 Australians is affected by IBS and it’s a chronic problem that causes more than just abdominal pain and a disturbed bowel habit.

"The problem with this disorder is (patients) often feel anxious or depressed with this disorder, and it also has all sorts of other symptoms that people experience.”

He believes doctors need to start treating IBS on an individual case-by-case basis.

"It's not one treatment fits all, no doubt about that. We need to individualise treatment and I think we're getting closer to a personalised medicine approach," he said.

The scientists are hoping their findings will re-frame understanding of the condition across the globe.

CEO for NextGen Wellness, Chris Dixon-Hughes is excited by the findings.

“This could be revolutionary to people’s health. Just in my business, I know how important gut health is and that your gut needs to be happy for people to function properly,” Mr Dixon-Hughes said.

“I do lots of talks around the Hunter Valley to raise awareness for gut health issues, but also our probiotics, which are sold in store, are very popular with people who are having difficulty with their gut health, particularly IBS.” he said.

The results of the study have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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