McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Michael Pezzone, MD, PhD (pictured), is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology. Currently Dr. Pezzone is actively involved in conducting clinical trials in collaboration with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and French researchers who have discovered that cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) plays a key role in reducing intestinal pain. As a result, Ironwood has developed linaclotide, a therapeutic agent with no definitive side effects that increases cGMP levels in the intestine to help relieve the many problems associated with a compromised colon.
As described by Denise Bachman of the Observer-Reporter, to date there are only two medications - MiraLAX and Amitiza - primarily used to treat constipation. Both balance the water in the digestive tract to soften stools, but MiraLAX relieves only occasional constipation and Amitiza can produce debilitating side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches.
"There are not a whole lot of drugs for constipation," said Dr. Pezzone who is accepting participants for the cGMP clinical trials of a drug that may alleviate the pain and discomfort of nearly 26 million Americans who suffer from chronic constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are other colon afflictions. IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects 14-24 percent of women and 5-19 percent of men in western populations and is characterized by abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, and abdominal bloating. It generally has been treated with high-fiber diet, drugs, or both. IBD is the term used for a group of diseases and disorders that affect the intestinal tract. IBD causes the intestines to become inflamed and irritated. IBD is a lifelong illness that can be difficult to control. IBD affects about 600,000 Americans every year. The two forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
"The colon is a thermostat for the immune system. If it functions too aggressively, it reacts more than it should," Dr. Pezzone said. He recommends nourishing the colon with 20 grams of fiber per day and getting a baseline colonoscopy at age 50.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NIH)--Constipation
UPMC-- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
UPMC-- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Bio: Dr. Michael Pezzone