Doctors have been treating the potentially fatal Clostridium difficile infection by transplanting donated healthy poop; however, many patients are turned off by that idea. A new study shows fake feces may be just as effective at stopping this bacteria.
C. difficile is a bacteria that can cause a serious and life-threatening form of diarrhea. It is often caused by overuse of antibiotics. As reported previously in Digital Journal, stool transplants from healthy donors are quite successful in combating a C. difficile infection. However, the idea of receiving someone else's healthy poop is quite revolting to many people. Scientists at Kingston General Hospital in Ontario decided to see if such transplants could be successfully done without using actual stool.
They created a synthetic mixture from 33 bacterial strains cultured from the feces of a healthy 41-year-old woman. They then tested the mixture by transplanting it via colonoscopy into two elderly women with C. difficile infection who had failed treatment with the antibiotics metronidazole or vancomycin.
Within two to three days, both women felt better, their diarrhea was gone and they were having normal bowel movements. When they returned for follow-up six months later, they were still symptom-free. This is despite the fact that both women had taken antibiotics during that time for other unrelated health issues (C. difficile can reappear when antibiotics are used). The results are reported in the January 9 online edition of the journal Microbiome.
The investigators caution that this was not a large scale trial and more studies are needed. According to Medpage, other scientists say it may be possible to narrow down the number of bacterial strains included in the synthetic poop mixture, once more research is done on this form of therapy.