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article imagePop a pill, how fecal transplant is becoming easier

By Tim Sandle     Oct 12, 2013 in Health
A Canadian study shows that fecal transplants in an oral capsule form are an effective treatment for C. diff infection. This development makes the idea of the fecal transplant easier to swallow.
Fecal transplants (or 'fecal bacteriotherapy') appear to have a high success rate. The technique aims to restore the balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria in the colon. Up until now, the procedure has involved single to multiple infusions (e.g. by enema) of bacterial fecal flora originating from a healthy donor.
For those for whom the ideal is unappealing, a breakthrough appears to have taken place: a fecal transplant in pill form. The pill has been developed by Dr. Thomas Louie, a specialist in infectious disease and a professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta.
According to, Dr. Louie takes stool from a healthy donor and processes it in a centrifuge until he’s left with only bacteria. Then he loads those bacteria into gelatin capsules that are about the size of the average vitamin pill. The pill is designed to tackle Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections, which can cause severe diarrhea and cramping.
The pills were presented at IDWeek 2013, an international meeting of infectious disease specialists in San Francisco. Commenting on the new format, Curtis Donskey, an associate professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a physician the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, told the Associated Press that "The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel—no one else has done this. I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians."
Given that fecal transplants are being tried more often, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided that the transplants require review and regulation. The FDA has declared that fecal transplants meet the definition of a biologic therapy. This means that researchers who want to perform the procedure will now have to submit an investigational new drug (IND) application, via the FDA. To aid medics, the FDA has released a guidance note.
More about Fecal, fecal bacteria, fecal transplant, Pills
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