Gebro Pharma and Goodgut have come together to explore, by means of a clinical trial, whether or not variations in the composition of intestinal flora influence patients’ response to treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in order to define these bacterial markers as a parameter for predicting which patients will respond best.
It is estimated that IBD currently affects around 2.2 million people in Europe and approximately 120,000 in Spain, with the incidence of the disease rising globally. The existing treatments not only have a high cost and significant side effects, but are effective in only 60% of patients, of whom around 50% end up becoming non-responsive to the treatment.
Recent studies indicate that the bacterial communities present in the colon mucosa of a patient with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are structurally different from those of healthy individuals.
The University Hospital Doctor Josep Trueta in Girona is participating in the trial, led by Dr Xavier Aldeguer, Head of the Digestive Tract Department at the hospital, and Lecturer in Digestive Physiology at the University of Girona Faculty of Medicine. Other team members include Mariona Serra, Goodgut CEO and pharmacologist, and Bellvitge University Hospital, with the collaboration of Dr Jordi Guardiola, Head of its Digestive Tract Department.
The growing role of intestinal microbiota
In recent years the role of microbiota has gradually become clearer, and studies on the matter have become increasingly common due to the relevance and impact that resident bacteria in physiology and pathology have on human health.
The main functions of intestinal microbiota include metabolic activities, that is, the recovery of energy and nutrients, and protection of the individual against invasion by foreign micro-organisms. Intestinal bacteria also play an essential role in developing and modulating the immune system, meaning that alterations to the balance of these bacterial species have significant repercussions involving microflora in multiple pathological processes, not only in the gastrointestinal tract, as in IBD or colon cancer, but in the whole organism.
With bacterial flora having been described as an agent triggering the pathogenesis of IBD, the effectiveness of the treatment of said diseases could be subject to differences in its composition. In fact, around 30% of the patients do not respond to treatment have intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance or impoverishment); it appears that this factor means that a higher degree of dysbiosis means a lower response to the treatment.