Aspirin is one of the oldest drugs, widely used for pain relief, suppression of inflammation and prevention of heart disease and stroke. However, well known to many patients is a troublesome side effect of intestinal damage and ulcers. A remarkable first-of-its-kind study from Cork reveals that bifidobacteria can prevent aspirin-induced intestinal ulcers in humans. 

The new study is unique in several respects. Firstly, it builds on scientific observations from APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre published earlier this year which showed that some bifidobacteria produce a protective protein which promotes healing of the intestinal epithelial lining (Molecular Microbiology January, 2019 doi: 10.1111/mmi.14155). Secondly, the new work now provides objective endoscopic (photographic) evidence in human volunteers that aspirin-induced ulcers can be reduced by bifidobacteria.  Finally, the work involved a 4-way collaboration among clinicians at the Mercy Hospital in Cork under the direction of Dr. Martin Buckley, investigators at Cork’s APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre, in collaboration with local Cork company Atlantia Food Clinical Trials and in association with the 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-tern aspirin”
Dr Martin Buckley

Atlantia Food Clinical Trials is an innovative company that designs and delivers clinical studies for functional ingredients, supplements, pre- and probiotics, medical foods, infant formula and microbiome-based therapeutic sectors. A spin-out of APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre at University College Cork, Atlantia has operations in Cork, Ireland and Chicago, USA.

“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.

“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 SFI Research Centre. “The four partners collaborated synergistically to deliver a high quality clinical study, which could not have been carried out by the teams individually.”

The research is published in the prestigious journal, Gastroenterology (the highest impact journal in gastrointestinal science) where it also featured on the journal cover.

Full reference:
Bifidobacterium breve Bif195 protects against small-intestinal damage caused by acetylsalicylic acid in healthy volunteers
Brynjulf Mortensen, Clodagh Murphy, John O’Grady, Mary Lucey, Gafer Elsafi, Lillian Barry, Vibeke Westphal, Anja Wellejus, Oksana Lukjancenko, Aron C. Eklund, Henrik Bjorn Nielsen, Adam Baker, Anders Damholt, Johan E.T. van Hylckama Vlieg, Fergus Shanahan and Martin Buckley.
Gastroenterology 2019; 157:637-646