Penn researchers find relief for gastrointestinal illnesses

(Philadelphia, PA) Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a new drug treatment option for small bowel bacteria overgrowth (SBBO) -- a condition such as Crohn's disease -- which prevents the body from absorbing enough nutrients from the small intestines; and pouchitis, an inflammation of an internal pouch created in patients who have had a section of colon removed. Both conditions are commonly treated with antibiotics. However, use is often limited due to adverse reactions, including nausea, anorexia, peripheral neuropathy, tendonitis, and drug interactions. Gary Lichtenstein, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director, Center for Inflammatory Irritable Bowel Diseases in the Division of Gastroenterology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, presented his findings today at the annual Digestive Disease Week meeting.

In two separate studies Lichtenstein and colleagues looked at the use of Rifaximin (Xifaxan), an orally administered, gut-specific antibiotic, to relieve symptoms of SBBO and pouchitis.

In the first study, 14 patients with SBBO (10 had Crohn's disease, 2 had scleroderma, and 2 had a mixed connective tissue disorder) were given Rifaximin for 14 days. Thirteen of the 14 patients (9 of 10 patients with Crohn's disease, 2 of 2 with scleroderma, and 2 of 2 with mixed connective tissue disorders) responded to treatment. Of this group, 12 had complete remission of symptoms and one patient had a greater than 50% reduction of symptoms. All patients reported decreased fecal urgency and complete resolution of abdominal pain. No adverse events occurred in any of the patients.

In the second study, 10 patients suffering with pouchitis were given Rifaximin for 14 days. Of the nine patients who responded to treatment, eight experienced complete remission, while the remaining patient reported a greater than 50% improvement. As in the first study, all experienced decreased fecal urgency and comp


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