The research was presented at the recent American College of Gastroenterology's annual meeting in Honolulu, HI.
"This study is important as it is the first to show that the use of targeted antibiotics results in a more significant and long-lasting improvement in IBS symptoms," said Mark Pimentel, M.D., first author on the study and director of the GI Motility Program at Cedars-Sinai. "These results clearly show that antibiotics offer a new treatment approach and a new hope for people with IBS."
The randomized, double blind study involved 87 patients. Those on the rifaximin experienced a 37 percent overall improvement of their IBS symptoms as compared to 23 percent on the placebo. Among study subjects whose primary symptom was diarrhea, those on the antibiotic showed more than twice the improvement of those on the placebo (49 percent vs. 23 percent). Patients received the drug (or placebo) for 10 days and were then followed for a total of 10 weeks. Participants kept a stool diary, took a questionnaire and were given methane breath tests. The positive effects of the drug were shown to continue throughout most of the 10-week study, not just during the actual antibiotic course.
Because the cause of IBS has been elusive, treatments for the disease have historically focused on reducing its symptoms diarrhea and constipation by giving medications that either slow or speed up the digestive process.
Contact: Simi Singer
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center