In 2012, a group of 29 internationally recognized experts in the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) convened to audit the current state of IBS research. The meeting was preceded by a comprehensive online survey that focused on research needs for IBS diagnosis (particularly the strengths and shortcomings of current criteria), definitions used in clinical trials for IBS patients and "healthy controls," potential biomarkers for IBS, and outcome measures in drug trials. While the purpose of the meeting was not to make binding recommendations, participants developed a framework for future questions and research needs in IBS. First, participants indicated the need for revised criteria for the diagnosis of IBS; in particular, inclusion of bloating and de-emphasis of pain as criteria were considered critical needs. Second, participants noted that definitions of normal, healthy controls varied widely among clinical trials; these definitions need to be standardized not only to improve the reliability of results, but also to better facilitate inter-trial comparisons and data synthesis. Third, participants highlighted the need for accurate biomarkers of disease. Fourth and finally, participants noted that further defining outcome measures, so that they are functionally relevant and reflect normalization of bowel function, is a critical need. Together, the discussions held at this workshop form a framework to address future research in IBS.
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