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Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Feb;5(1):43-57. doi: 10.1586/egh.10.88.

The role of experimental models in developing new treatments for irritable bowel syndrome.

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VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, LA, CA, USA.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by chronic, recurrent abdominal pain and altered bowel habits and is currently defined by symptom criteria and the absence of detectable organic disease. The underlying pathophysiology remains incompletely understood. Despite considerable efforts by the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry to develop novel pharmacological treatments aimed at chronic visceral pain, the traditional approach to identifying and evaluating novel drugs for this target have largely failed to translate into effective IBS treatments. However, several novel drugs aimed at normalizing bowel movements have produced clinical effects, not only on the primary target, but also on pain and discomfort. While some of the commonly used experimental animal models for the pain dimension of IBS have some face and construct validity, the predictive validity of most of the models is either unknown, or has been disappointing. A reverse translational approach is proposed, which is based on identification and characterization of brain endophenotypes in patients, followed by translation of these endophenotypes for pharmacological studies in rodent models.

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