Colitis patients who don't respond well to conventional therapy may soon get help from a bacteria mixture, reports science portal www.eurekalert.org.
Richard Fedorak, a professor of gastroenterology at the University of Alberta, and researchers from the University of Bologna in Italy and the University of North Carolina administered probiotic bacteria mixture VSL#3 over a six-week period to 30 patients aged 18-65.
Probiotics are preparations of living microbial cells that, when ingested, are thought to positively influence the composition of microbes in the gut and improve the health of the intestine.
Remission of colitis was achieved in 63 percent of patients, while another 23 percent responded with improvement in their symptoms and with healing of the colon's lining. There were no adverse effects to the medication, the study said.
In this open label clinical trial, 86 percent of those treated with probiotic bacteria mixture VSL#3 experienced relief of their mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.
The researchers found that the majority of patients taking VSL#3 for six weeks improved their ulcerative colitis. While "bad" bacteria have been flagged as potential culprits in the cause of inflammatory diseases of the bowel, in this case, the ingestion of supplemental "good" bacteria (probiotics) to the intestine proved beneficial in treating ulcerative colitis, Fedorak said.
The VSL#3 can be considered an important potential treatment for those patients who don't respond to conventional therapy such as mesalamine or 5ASA, he said.