High success rate for fecal transplant

Posted Jan 19, 2013 by Tim Sandle
Scientists have shown that fecal transplant, transferring the stool of a healthy person into the gut of someone with an antibiotic resistant microbe infection, has a high success rate.
The Digital Journal has covered the issue of fecal transplants previously. Now data is in which demonstrates a significant success rate.
According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the process of infusing a the stool of a healthy person into the intestines of another (fecal transplant) was successful in curing 15 out of 16 patients suffering from a recurrent diarrheal infection of the problem microbe Clostridium difficile. This bacterium is one of the so-called problem bacteria, noted for being resistant to many antibiotics.
The argument for this treatment is that the microbial population (the microbiome) from the health person will challenge and outgrow the unwanted bacteria (in this case C. difficile).
The fecal transplant was compared with traditional treatment with the antibiotic vancomycin. The antibiotic only cured 7 out of 26 patients. On this basis, the fecal transplant had a 94% success rate compared with only a 27% success rate for the antibiotic treatment.
For the study, the researchers infused healthy fecal material into each patient’s small intestine through a tube inserted in the patient’s nose. Apparently the nasal route is quicker and easier than the enema method.
Alexander Khoruts,a gastroenterologist, and based at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, was quoted in the science journal Nature as saying: "Those of us who’ve been doing this procedure for some time didn’t need any more convincing, but the larger medical community needs to go through these steps. It’s an unusual situation where we have more than 50 years of worldwide experience and more than 500 published cases, and only this far along does a randomized trial appear."
In addition to this study, which used health human fecaes, scientists are researching and developing a synthetic stool. This will give a tighter control over the bacterial population.
Despite fecal transplants having been carried out before, it remains are a relatively untested procedure and further studies will be required to see if the results can be replicated. There is also likely to be resistance from many patients, as well as some in the medical community, towards this process.