Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects up to 15% of the European and North American population, and is characterised by abdominal pain, bloating sensations, cramping, constipation, and diarrhoea. Main subtypes of IBS include constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C), diarrhoea-predominant IBS (IBS-D), and mixed diarrhoea and constipation-associated IBS (IBS-M). The pathophysiology of IBS is still unclear, but important factors such as alterations in the brain-gut axis, bacterial overgrowth in the intestines, increased paracellular permeability, disruptions in the immune system, and accrued visceral sensitivity have been suggested. While many therapies are available to treat the symptoms associated with IBS, on a symptom-by-symptom basis, there are few effective treatments for IBS itself, including linaclotide, which was approved 2 years ago in Europe but only for IBS-C. Additional disease-modifying therapies to slow disease progression or achieve remission are needed as this represents a substantial unmet need. New emerging data on the pathophysiology of IBS are certainly promising; better knowledge of the underlying mechanisms will help refine the management of IBS, both in terms of diagnosis with the development of biomarkers, and in terms of therapeutic management with new pharmacological targets. Additional treatment options will be welcome given the variety of disease subtypes and presentations. The United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week Congress, which was held in Vienna, Austria, 18th-22nd October 2014, was an excellent opportunity to share new findings on the pathophysiology and new clinical evidence and emerging therapies in the management of IBS. Selected abstracts received additional exposure through the “Posters in the Spotlight” session and the “Posters of Excellence” award; such abstracts will be developed in this review.
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