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Scientists in Cork Discover Aspirin-Ulcer Cure

A new study followed out by APC Microbiome Ireland in Cork has shown that bifidobacteria, which is found in the guts of newborns, can prevent and heal ulcers caused by the painkiller aspirin, despite declining as age occurs.

This is a continuation of a previous study, which found the same bacteria could be found to produce a protective protein which promotes the healing of the intestinal epithelial lining.

Aspirin is a commonly used drug to help in the relief in pain and in the prevention of heart disease and strokes. However, the nature of the drug can be tough on the stomach lining and lead to intestinal damage, and subsequently, ulcers.

The research was carried out in a four-way collaboration among clinicians at the Cork’s Mercy Hospital under the direction of Dr Martin Buckley, investigators at Cork’s APC Microbiome Ireland led by Fergus Shanahan, local company Atlantia Food Clinical Trials and the multinational biosciences company Chr Hansen.

“Although prior studies have described stomach damage from aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, this is, to the best of our knowledge, the first trial to record a detailed time-course of aspirin-induced, small-intestinal damage. Even more impressive was the subsequent reversal of the damage by the bifidobacterium that could be added as a natural supplement to the diet of patients on long-term aspirin,” said Dr Martin Buckley.

“This case study is an excellent example of a collaboration between an SFI Research Centre, APC Microbiome Ireland, an innovative Irish SME, Atlantia Food Clinical Trials, multinational biosciences company Chr. Hansen and the Mercy University Hospital” said Prof Fergus Shanahan, Principal Investigator APC Microbiome Ireland. “The four partners collaborated synergistically to deliver a high-quality clinical study, which could not have been carried out by the teams individually.”

“Atlantia is one of the world’s leading multicentre, multinational trial facilities specialising in food and nutraceutical clinical trials. Our highly trained and experienced teams enable us to conduct and manage complex studies across all health areas for our growing global customer base. To be involved in a clinical programme with Chr. Hansen, that has such a potentially large benefit to people everywhere, is a great testament to the quality of the research Atlantia provided, coupled with the commitment of the Chr. Hansen team,” said Andrea Doolan, CEO, Atlantia Food Clinical Trials.

The research is published in the prestigious journal, Gastroenterology (the highest impact journal in gastrointestinal science).Prof Shanahan said a larger study is underway and it is hoped a product containing Bifidobacterium will go on general sale within the next three years.