HOST Therabiomics hopes to develop the dietary compound HOST-G904, which improved the composition of gut bacteria without increasing gas, into a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gut conditions.
The company published a study of the investigational prebiotic’s impact on gut bacteria, “Metabolic adaptation of colonic microbiota to galactooligosaccharides: a proof-of-concept-study,” in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
“These results show the potential for HOST-G904 to improve the gastrointestinal microbiome without causing discomforting gastrointestinal symptoms often associated with other treatments for functional gut disorders,” Graham Waters, HOST Therabiomics’ CEO, said in a press release.
“HOST-G904 is designed to optimize the gut microbiome and support the immune system’s defenses against certain diseases, and may offer new hope for patients impacted by IBS, IBD and other gut disorders. Based on these positive results, HOST Therabiomics will further analyze this compound in a Phase 2b study.”
Many patients with gut conditions are urged to stick to a diet referred to as FODMAP, for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. The diet limits sugars, lactose and other compounds believed to contribute to gut symptoms.
But it has been criticized for affecting gut microbiota, so HOST researchers came up with an alternative.
The team’s proof-of-concept trial (NCT02618239) recruited 26 healthy volunteers, of which 20 received daily doses of HOST-G904 for three weeks. Participants were evaluated during three-day periods immediately before, at the beginning and at the end of treatment. During the evaluations, participants ate a standardized low-fiber diet, but there were no dietary restrictions during the rest of the study.
The research showed that the compound initially increased gas, but that production returned to normal by the end of the trial. After three weeks, researchers found more butyrate-producing bacteria in patients’ feces — a change linked to the lower gas volumes.
Butyrate is a fat that is important to gut health. It controls the growth rate of the cells lining the gut and the presence of immune cells in the colon.
“While low FODMAP diets can be effective for people with IBS and other GI disorders, they are extremely rigid to follow and have been criticized in recent years for negatively impacting the microbiome,” said Fernando Azpiroz, MD, PhD, chief of the Department of Digestive Diseases at the University Hospital Vall d’Hebron and Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain.
“In previous studies, HOST-G904 has been shown to improve IBS symptoms in patients, which was attributed to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome,” said Azpiroz, the senior author of the study. “Our new findings further reinforce the body of evidence supporting the clinical implications of this compound as a potential alternative therapy for functional GI disorders.”