Fecal transplants work by transporting fecal matter from healthy donors to those who are less healthy. Now, a study has shown that the procedure may be able to help those with treatment-resistant bacterial infections.
For the study, the researchers transferred fecal matter from healthy individuals to 20 patients infected with multi-drug resistant organisms. They then followed the patients for six months after the transplant and compared their prognosis to their symptoms six months prior.
In the end, they found that fecal transplants managed to completely clear the resistant bacteria in 41% of the 17 patients who completed the follow-up. Although unable to completely clear the resistant bacteria in all patients, the researchers found that the procedure benefited these patients in other ways.
"Many of these patients have had recurrent, prolonged courses of heavy-duty antibiotics, end-of-the-line treatments with high toxicity profiles, and repeated hospital stays. They had given up work or had family members forced to give up work to care for them - having a huge impact on quality of life," said Benjamin Mullish, a lead researcher of the study and clinical lecturer in the Division of Digestive Diseases, Imperial College London, England.
"After this experimental treatment, we saw many in this group being able to go back to work, play with their grandkids and have an overall much better quality of life."
The researchers noted that all of the patients who completed the follow-up saw a reduction in bloodstream infections with resistant bacteria. Eight patients were even able to undergo stem-cell transplants within six months of the procedure without any adverse side effects.
From their results, the researchers thus suggest that fecal transplants may be able to colonize resistant organisms. They also say that it may have a positive impact on other microbiota-related mechanisms, however to understand how these work, further study is required.