IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the United States, affecting an estimated 30 million people. Patients with this condition suffer symptoms that can include painful bloating, constipation, diarrhea or an alternating pattern of both. Many patients try to avoid social interactions because they are embarrassed by their symptoms. Pimentel has led clinical trials that have shown rifaximin, a targeted antibiotic absorbed only in the gut, is an effective treatment for patients with IBS.
“In the past, treatments for IBS have always focused on trying to alleviate the symptoms," said Pimentel, who first bucked standard medical thought more than a decade ago when he suggested bacteria played a significant role in the disease. “Patients who take rifaximin experience relief of their symptoms even after they stop taking the medication. This new study confirms what our findings with the antibiotic and our previous studies always led us to believe: Bacteria are key contributors to the cause of IBS."
The study is a collaboration with researchers at Sismanogleion General Hospital in Athens, Greece, and at the University of Athens.