BOSTON – It’s been just a year since Bani Chander Roland, MD, FACG, was awarded the 2017 AGA-Medtronic Research and Development Pilot Award in Technology, and her team already has recruited 30 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) for a study of the gut microbiome and functioning. Interim data from her grant will be presented at Digestive Disease Week® 2018 in June in Washington, D.C., as a poster of distinction.
Dr. Roland and her team are testing the hypothesis that IBS and SIBO result from several distinct pathophysiologic mechanisms, each of which are associated with their own distinct microbial and inflammatory profile. For the study, they are using the Wireless Motility Capsule (WMC, SmartPill) to assess alterations in gastrointestinal pathophysiology in patients with suspected IBS and SIBO – just the sort of innovative technology that the AGA Center for GI Innovation and Technology (CGIT) has fostered. They also are obtaining microflora from oropharyngeal, gastric, small bowel, and fecal samples for DNA sequencing. In addition, the team is beginning to study serum samples to test the hypothesis that patients with IBS and SIBO have increased expression of pro-inflammatory markers compared to those with only IBS; they are attempting to correlate the inflammatory markers to specific bacteria.
“IBS is a very common gastrointestinal disorder, and we’re continuing to see an increase in prevalence in Western countries, without understanding the etiology for this syndrome,” said Dr. Roland, director of gastrointestinal motility at Lenox Hill Hospital and Northwell Health System in New York. “Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific or targeted therapies for this patient population because the underlying physiological mechanisms that cause IBS are not very well understood. When we treat these patients with antibiotics, often their symptoms come right back. If we can target the causes of disease in subsets of these patients, we may be able to successfully treat them.”
“We’re very excited to see what changes in the microbiome exist in this patient population, to determine if the microbiome may be another potential area that we can target for treatment,” she added.
In data to be presented in the DDW poster, Dr. Roland’s team used the SmartPill to measure the gastrointestinal transit times, pH, and ileocecal junction pressures of patients with IBS and SIBO as compared to patients with IBS without evidence of SIBO. “Interestingly, patients who had IBS and SIBO had significantly higher contraction frequency in the stomach and small bowel compared to patients with IBS alone,” Dr. Roland said. Those with both conditions also had lower ileocecal junction pressures. “These are physiological mechanisms that have not been well understood before,” Dr. Roland said. “We have been able to begin delineating some of the underlying physiological mechanisms in this challenging patient population for the first time, using a noninvasive, wireless motility capsule.”
Dr. Roland’s team is now partnering with the hospital’s endocrinology division to compare the circulating inflammatory markers in patients with IBS and SIBO, such as TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-alpha and IL (interleukin)-6, to patients with IBS alone. They will use their data to apply for future funding.