OCT 01, 2018 04:09 PM PDT

Transplanting Fecal Matter

The human body has many hidden surprises. One of which is the power fecal matter in the form of a donor gut microbiome. Many patients that have undergone antibiotic therapy to achieve remission from a particular infection can have severe side effects. Opportunistic infections, such as those caused by a particularly nasty bacterium called, Clostridium difficile, can take over a patients gut. When this occurs, more antibiotic therapy can be a potential solution, but, can a donor, fecal microbiome transplant, offer better outcomes for these patients?

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides insight into the effectiveness of a fecal microbiome transplant when compared to antibiotic therapy.

But first, what is it we are talking about here? Poop. Yes, this may seem like a terrible way to overcome a medical situation; however, the science behind the therapy checks out and can even provide a quick recovery.

A fecal transplant is a form of bacteriotherapy where a transfer of stool from a healthy individual is provided to an ill individual. The transfer can be conducted directly via the colon or large intestine making use of colonoscopy, tube insertion into the stomach, or in some cases via pill-form.

In healthy individuals, our gut microbiome is a population of commensal bacteria that aids in our overall digestion. Some of the bacteria are good, and some are considered dangerous. The good bacteria out-compete the bad to a level that the bad does not cause any issue. But when an individual takes antibiotics, the harmful bacteria can sometimes gain advantage and overtake the gut. Fecal microbiome transplants are one of the ways to reconstitute homeostasis.

The observations from the clinical trial in Norway compare 20 adult C. difficile infected patients. One group of 11 patients underwent antibiotic treatments with metronidazole while another group of 9 patients received fecal microbiome transplants.

If the outcome of the method of treatment revealed a clinical cure with no evidence of C. difficile infection or reoccurrence, it was deemed a primary success. If the treatment resulted in the need for further treatment before clearance of C. difficile, it was considered to be to be a secondary success.

Of the 11 patients that received antibiotic treatment, 5 had a full recovery while the remaining six did not experience primary or secondary recovery. Of the nine patients that received a fecal transplant, five experienced full primary recovery, 2 experienced secondary recovery.

These results suggest that a fecal microbiome transplant may be an alternative to antibiotic therapy in C. difficile infection. The team has since moved this therapy to phase three clinical trials to test for efficacy, effectiveness, and safety.

More research is still required to determine the parameters for what makes an ideal donor, however, for now, fecal microbiome transplants are a promising alternative to combat bacterial infections like those caused by c. difficile.

Sources: QDT, Scientific American, MayoClinic, NEJM

About the Author
You May Also Like
AUG 21, 2018
Immunology
AUG 21, 2018
T cells Trapped by Brain Cancer
Brain tumors prevent T cells from escaping the bone marrow by altering levels of the S1P1 protein....
OCT 10, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 10, 2018
It's Time for Your Annual Flu Shot
After last year's flu season killed around 80,000 people, the CDC is trying to get the word out about the flu vaccine....
NOV 07, 2018
Immunology
NOV 07, 2018
Inflammation Can Steal Your Sleep
A link between inflammation and the circadian rhythm has been determined in mouse models. High-fat-diets may be the cause....
NOV 27, 2018
Immunology
NOV 27, 2018
A Genetic Switch During Inflammation
Microglia, CNS immune cells, change their genetic profile during different states of the inflammation spectrum...
NOV 27, 2018
Immunology
NOV 27, 2018
A Mutated Immunity
Researchers utilize blood samples to determine cancer neoantigens to create effective vaccination in mouse model...
DEC 11, 2018
Immunology
DEC 11, 2018
Autoimmunity Caused By Genetic Mutation
Research reveals a genetic mutation causes a protein binding site to alter its structure resulting in the development of chronic inflammation and autoimmunity...
Loading Comments...