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8th May 2024 Latest News Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Treating IBDs through the power of gut bacteria

Paul Joyce

Innovative new research suggests that manipulating gut bacteria through prebiotics shows promise in treating inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

IBDs are chronic and debilitating conditions affecting millions of people worldwide, characterised by severe inflammation of the digestive tract.

Conventional treatments aim to control symptoms and prevent complications, however they often have limited effectiveness and come with side effects.

New research led by Hospital Research Foundation Group Fellow Dr Paul Joyce, from the University of South Australia, aims to target the root cause of the condition, using prebiotics (dietary fibres that nourish beneficial gut bacteria) to restore balance in the gut and alleviate symptoms of IBD.

“Previous studies have shown that a healthy gut microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining gut health, and alterations in this bacterial community are associated with IBD,” Dr Joyce said, who is also collaborating with Canadian researchers at the University of Manitoba.

“IBD depletes the microbial ecosystem within the gastrointestinal tract, leading to inflammation and metabolic dysfunction.

“Our research has shown that prebiotics alleviate these symptoms by serving as an energy and food source for gut microbes, restoring the microbiome and potentially improving IBD symptoms.”

The review highlighted the therapeutic potential of various prebiotics derived from different food sources, including:

  • β-fructans – found in chicory root, garlic, and bananas
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) – found in legumes like lentils and chickpeas
  • β-glucans – found in oats, mushrooms, and yeast
  • Xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) – derived from sugarcane, corn cob, and rice husk
  • Pectin – found in citrus fruits and other fruits and vegetables
  • Resistant starch (RS) – found in unripe bananas, potatoes, and high-amylose maize starches
  • Glucomannan (GM) – found in the konjac root

“Our ongoing preclinical studies show promise for these prebiotics in reducing inflammation, improving gut barrier function, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria,” Dr Joyce said.

“More research is now needed to determine the most effective prebiotics and their optimal dosages for managing IBD in humans.”

This new approach holds significant promise for improving the lives of patients with IBD! We look forward to keeping you updated.