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IBS Sufferers Benefited by Non-Absorbable Antibiotics

l Syndrome affects about 20% of Americans and is one of the top 10 most frequently diagnosed conditions by U.S. physicians. The disorder is characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating and diarrhea and/or constipation and is a long-term condition that usually begins in early adult life. The episodes may be mild or severe and may be exacerbated by stress and is more common in women than in men.

Pimentel said, "While this study being released today demonstrates that the non-absorbed antibiotic rifaximin has great promise in the clinical improvement of IBS, more research is needed. Next steps include multi-center studies to further assess short- and long-term benefits of this drug. Tests comparing rifaximin to other types of antibiotics that have been used to treat the disease should also be conducted."

Treatments for this disease have been mainly focused on reducing its symptoms because researchers are still clueless about its cause. In the Dec 2000 issue of American Journal of Gastroenterology, Pimentel linked bloating, the most common symptom of IBS, to bacterial fermentation by giving lactulose breath tests to participants.

This test monitors the level of hydrogen and methane on the breath and showed evidence that small intestine bacteria overgrowth may be a causative factor in IBS. The current Annals study participants also took the breath tests, which showed similarly increased levels of hydrogen and methane.

Rifaximin is manufactured by Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Funding for the study was also provided by Salix. The discovery related to the use of rifaximin for IBS was made at Cedars-Sinai by Pimentel. Cedars-Sinai holds patent rights to this discovery and has licensed rights to the invention to Salix.
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