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£1.8m study into IBS food supplements launches

14 August 2022

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A new study is launching that will investigate how new cellulose-based food supplements could help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The project is led by the University of Nottingham in collaboration with Dr Fred Warren and Dr Hannah Harris from the Quadram Institute. It is being supported by £1.8m from the Medical Research Council.

The team will analyse images of carbohydrates fermenting in the gut at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Research Centre at the University of Nottingham to understand how these new supplements could help IBS patients avoid some of the dietary restrictions they currently need to avoid painful symptoms.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Robin Spiller from the University of Nottingham said: “IBS often involves carbohydrates which are incompletely absorbed. Instead, they pass into the colon where they are fermented giving off gas which can cause pain and bloating. To avoid this, patients are sometimes put on a restrictive, complex diet which may mean they miss out foods important for their longer-term health.”

“The colon is a really difficult organ to study, and Nottingham’s expertise in medical imaging as well as the laboratory modelling in Norwich means we can watch what happens to food as it’s digested. That will help design food supplements which will enable IBS patients to eat a healthier, less restricting diet.”

The three-year project will draw on the Quadram Institute’s expertise in gut research, food and the role of microbes in health.

The Quadram Institute team will carry out microbiome analysis of the trials in human volunteers, as well as parallel experiments using model systems to explore the biochemical and microbiological mechanisms by which the supplements alter gas production in IBS.

Dr Warren said, “This exciting collaborative MRC project has the potential to offer real benefits to IBS patients through improving our understanding of the role of diet-microbiome interactions and gut physiology in IBS.”

This article was posted by our partner, the Quadram Institute, on their website here.

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