IBS awareness month: Anatara Lifesciences trial offers hope for millions

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By Colin Hay - 
IBS awareness month irritable bowel syndrome Anatara Lifesciences ASX ANR

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is well-named, many sufferers are unaware of why they are feeling so uncomfortable and it can lead to many years of unhappiness.

It is estimated that between 5% to 10% of the world’s population may currently be suffering from IBS, many of whom may be unaware of what the issue is.

Thankfully, there is now an annual IBS Awareness Month in April that is playing a critical role in helping sufferers become aware of what is ailing them and providing answers to many critical questions.

Destigmatising IBS

The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) – which launched IBS Awareness Month in 1997 – said the aim is to help destigmatise the different types of IBS.

According to the IFFGD, the more the world can work together to raise awareness for IBS, the greater the combined ability to impact positive outcomes such as additional research, increased educational opportunities and improved patient care.

IFFGD president Ceciel Rooker says one of the primary dilemmas faced by individuals with IBS is the constant need to plan their lives around their symptoms.

“Simple activities such as dining out with friends, attending social events, or traveling can become sources of stress and anxiety, as uncertainty looms over how their bodies will react,” he said.

“This fear and discomfort from symptoms can often lead to avoidance behaviour, causing individuals to withdraw from social interactions and miss out on valuable experiences.”

Two different elements

The IBS disorder is characterised by two key elements:

  1. an abdominal component generally described as pain/discomfort; and
  2. alterations in bowel habits including changes in stool texture and/or frequency.

Changes in stool texture includes experiencing constipation, diarrhoea, or both.

Constipation is commonly defined as having three or fewer bowel movements (BMs) a week and/or difficulty passing BMs.

Diarrhoea is defined as loose, watery or frequent BMs.

Other symptoms may also occur, such as bloating, gas or urgency.

Many Australians suffer

Approximately one in five Australians experiences the unpleasant symptoms of IBS at some time.

According to Dietitians Australia, there is no known cause, but potential triggers may include stress, infection and medication.

IBS costs the Australian Healthcare system approximately $1.5 billion each year, marking it as not just a health burden but a serious economic burden as well.

One Australian company is now doing its part to help locals better understand and deal with IBS.

Anatara Lifesciences trial

Anatara Lifesciences (ASX: ANR) has received approval to enrol in the second stage of the company’s pivotal GaRP-IBS trial, which is to be conducted at 5 sites in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Under the trial guidelines, participants will be randomly placed into two groups to take either the optimum dose of the GaRP product selected from Stage 1 or the placebo.

It is expected that each patient will take approximately three months to complete the trial, which involves a wash-out period and the patient on GaRP for eight weeks with reporting throughout.

Stage 2 will follow up on the highly encouraging findings from Stage 1 of the GaRP-IBS clinical trial.

It is envisaged that data obtained from the Stage 2 trial of 60 to 100 patients will be combined with the information gleaned from Stage 1.

Anatara, which is building a pipeline of human gastrointestinal health products, has developed GaRP as a multi-component, multi-coated complementary medicine designed to address underlying factors associated with chronic gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS.