New gastroenterology research carried out by the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland has uncovered a new route for the development of anti-diarrhea drugs. The new route directly targets cells and molecular processes that control water movement into the intestine and may help with the development of a new class of anti-diarrhea medication.
The research found that drugs which act on a protein called Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) in the tissue of the intestine can stop water moving in to the gut. By switching off the water movement in to the gut, this can prevent diarrhea occurring.
Dr Stephen Keely, Associate Director of Molecular Medicine, RCSI and lead researcher, said 'diarrhea diseases are common and debilitating but safe and effective drugs for their treatment are still lacking. Our research has found that FXR is an important regulator of intestinal function and has excellent potential for the development of a new class of anti-diarrhea drugs."
In Ireland, diarrhea is the main reason for approximately 40,000 visits to gastroenterology clinics annually. Epidemics of acute infectious diarrhea are common, and many illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, digestive disorders and irritable bowel syndrome cause disruptions to the normal functioning of the intestine and lead to diarrhea. These conditions have a large financial burden to society both in terms of healthcare and lost hours of work.
The research found that drugs which target the FXR protein, target the cells lining the intestine, and because of this they may have broader efficacy and fewer side effects than many anti-diarrheas currently available on the market.
The research was published in Gut, an international journal in gastroenterology.
- M. S. Mroz, N. Keating, J. B. Ward, R. Sarker, S. Amu, G. Aviello, M. Donowitz, P. G. Fallon, S. J. Keely. Farnesoid X receptor agonists attenuate colonic epithelial secretory function and prevent experimental diarrhoea in vivo. Gut, 2013; DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-305088
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