Pin Me

How Genetics Could Create New Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatments

written by: •edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 6/21/2010

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, painful abdominal condition affecting millions of people worldwide. The causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are unknown, but increasingly the blame is laid on genes. The discovery of a genetic basis offers hope for new Irritable bowel syndrome treatments.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Searching for the Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Human genetics is a catch-all phrase that can be applied to all research devoted to the 25,000- 35,000 genes that we posses, though a more typical understanding is that it is the study of inherited diseases. However, the study of human genetics is shedding light on the molecular basis of many other diseases, including Irritable bowel syndrome. In searching for a genetic basis, scientists hope to undertstand the mechanism of the disease to help doctors diagnose it much earlier on. The knowledge should also aid with the development of new Irritable bowel syndrome treatments.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Genetic Mutations

    Irritable bowel syndrome is one of those disorders where genetic mutations are now believed to play a part in some situations.

    IBS is not one specific disease, it is a collection of symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include:

    • Pain in the abdomen - ranging from mild to severe
    • Excessive Wind
    • Bloating
    • Constipation
    • Severe diarrhoea

    Though it is not hereditary, genetic mutations acquired during life may cause some cases of IBS. Researchers at the Institute of Human Genetics at Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany have found several interesting genetic mutations in IBS patients with diarrhoea. These mutations appear to affect the composition or number of serotonin receptors in the intestine. Serotonin plays a key role in aiding digestion and the scientists have postulated that the affect of these mutations is to over stimulate the intestine and that this leads to a fluid imbalance which causes diarrhoea.

  • slide 3 of 4

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatments

    This research into Irritable bowel syndrome genetics was published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics and the scientists involved in the work believe that it improves the situation for some IBS sufferers. It opens the way for a very specific, targeted therapeutic approach based on compensating for the genetic mutations and potentially being more useful than any general medicine that is administered. Personlized medicine based on an individual's genome has long been a dream of many in the medical professions.