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Fecal transplant success against pathogenic bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Sep 17, 2015 in Science
A study in mice has shown that two common antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be reduced to a safe level via fecal transplantation of ‘healthy’ gut bacteria from a donor.
Fecal transplants involve the transfer of so-termed beneficial bacteria into people with anatomical infections caused by pathogenic bacteria. The scientific term for the process is "fecal bacteriotherapy." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared that fecal transplants meet the definition of a biologic therapy.
The standard way to administer beneficial bacteria is in either single or multiple infusions (such as by enema) of bacterial fecal flora originating from a healthy donor; or via the more palatable means of a pill. The biggest problem with the process is finding a sufficient number of suitable donors.
Most to date has been against one pathogen. The recent study was conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Researchers from the medical center looked into two pathogens occurring within the same gut at the same time. The pathogens were vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium and multi-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumonia. Both bacteria are resistant to common antimicrobial compounds. These bacteria can cause a number of gut related ill-health effects in humans.
Mice were bred and given high levels of the two pathogens. Control mice, which were sterile, were used as a comparator. By using fecal pellets, the researchers succeeded in adding sufficient numbers of ‘harmless’ bacteria. These beneficial bacteria out-grew and out-competed the pathogens. The results suggest that the mice can be cured of these types of bacterial infections.
The next stage is to identify the best array of beneficial bacteria to design the optimal fecal pellet. Later, human trials will be considered.
The findings are published in the journal PLOS Pathogens. The research paper is titled “Distinct but Spatially Overlapping Intestinal Niches for Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium and Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae.”
The research matches the outcome of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013. With this, the process of infusing the stool of a healthy person into the intestines of a person with an infection was successful. Tests were conducted on people with diarrheal infections of the problem microbe Clostridium difficile. Across 16 test subjects, 15 were successfully treated.
More about fecal transplants, Pathogens, Bacteria, Gut, fecal bacteriotherapy
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