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article imageFrozen feces helps to treat gut infections

By Tim Sandle     Oct 12, 2014 in Science
Boston - In a new medical study, several patients with recurring bacterial infections caused by Clostridium difficile found relief from diarrhea by ingesting frozen fecal matter from healthy volunteers.
Direct fecal transplants, which transfer gut microbiota from healthy donors, have shown great promise in treating a range of diseases. Here, scientists have shown that fecal transplant, whereby the stool of a healthy person is transferred into the gut of someone with an antibiotic resistant microbe infection, has a high success rate for different treatments (see Digital Journal, January 2013). Since these initial findings, researchers have been expanding the range of the bacteria that can be treated by such methods and they have been changing the method by which the fecal matter can be administered.
The first rounds of fecal bacteriotherapy involved single to multiple infusions (such as, by enema) of bacterial fecal flora originating from a healthy donor. Since then scientists have developed a slightly-more palatable pill form. In addition, scientists are researching and developing a synthetic stool. This will give a tighter control over the bacterial population.
However, some new research has taken a slightly different route. This new study focused on Clostridium difficile infections. C. difficile is one of the hospital "super-bugs" of concern. The study was conducted by Ilan Youngster of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and colleagues. The new treatment used which uses frozen fecal matter rather than gelatin coated microbial extracts. The frozen fecal matter cleared up diarrhea in 18 out of 20 patients, and the benefits persisted for up to 8 weeks after administration.
With the new research, the authors write: "If reproduced in future studies . . . these results may help make FMT accessible to a wider population of patients, in addition to potentially making the procedure safer. The use of capsules obviates the need for invasive procedures for administration, further increasing the safety of FMT . . . and significantly reducing cost."
The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The paper is titled "Oral, Capsulized, Frozen Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Relapsing Clostridium difficile Infection."
All fecal treatments are subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.
More about Fecal, microbiome, Bacteria, fecal pills
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