JUN 17, 2019 5:34 PM PDT

Patient Dies After Fecal Transplant

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Fecal transplants are still considered an experimental procedure, a fact highlighted by two recent infections that occurred after patients got the treatment. One of those patients died. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about the procedure.

The gastrointestinal tract plays host to a vast group of microbes that play a critical role in the health of an organism. This gut microbiome has been under study in recent years and has been linked to a wide variety of disorders. Studies have indicated that a lack of diversity in the microbiome or an absence of beneficial microbial strains are associated with disease.

In many cases, it’s not yet known whether the disease proceeds the conditions in the gut microbiome, or if the microbes contribute in some way to the development of disease. But when a strong course of antibiotics has to be used to treat a Clostridium difficile infection, the gut flora often suffer serious consequences. If an antimicrobial therapeutic destroys many of the microbes in the gut, it can give nasty bacteria a chance to get a toehold.

Fecal transplants have been used therapeutically to restore an unhealthy microbiome with good microbes from a healthy donor. They have typically been administrated as enemas or through special oral preparations.

The patients that recently got infections after a fecal transplant were part of a trial. They got the therapy from the same donor, and both developed serious multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli infections. The drug-resistant E. coli was then identified in the donor stool, which had not been checked for drug-resistant pathogens prior to its use.

The FDA has stressed that fecal transplants should only be considered after people have experienced infections from Clostridium difficile, who aren’t responding to standard therapies. They have also instituted new guidelines after this event.

However, people are using social media to attempt this treatment at home for whatever they think it might be useful for. Unfortunately, we still have a lot to learn about the many bacteria that reside in the human gut, and what impact they might have on different people. A 2016 study in PLOS One found that adverse events associated with fecal transplants were not rare - they occurred in almost ten percent of cases, and sometimes ended in death.

“Patients considering FMT [fecal microbiota for transplantation] to treat C. difficile infection should speak to their health care provider to understand the potential risks associated with the product’s use,” said the FDA in a statement.

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 04, 2020
Microbiology
Researchers Discover a Way to Use Microbes to Help Make Plastic
SEP 04, 2020
Researchers Discover a Way to Use Microbes to Help Make Plastic
Researchers have discovered that some bacteria can make ethylene in a way we never knew about; microbes that metabolize ...
SEP 23, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How Heparan Sulfate Helps SARS-CoV-2 Enter Cells
SEP 23, 2020
How Heparan Sulfate Helps SARS-CoV-2 Enter Cells
In order to infect a cell, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has to find a way in. It can use receptors on the surface of cells that ...
NOV 05, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Painless Microneedle Patch Diagnoses Malaria in Minutes
NOV 05, 2020
Painless Microneedle Patch Diagnoses Malaria in Minutes
It looks like a Band-Aid — a small, adhesive patch that is applied directly to the skin. This simple, low-cost dia ...
NOV 09, 2020
Microbiology
Fighting COVID-19 with Help From Llamas
NOV 09, 2020
Fighting COVID-19 with Help From Llamas
Camelids, which include llamas, alpacas and camels have immune systems that generate two kinds of antibodies when confro ...
NOV 23, 2020
Microbiology
Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Involves a Unique Mechanism
NOV 23, 2020
Drug Resistance in Tuberculosis Involves a Unique Mechanism
The pathogenic bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, does not multiply quickly, so researchers ...
DEC 01, 2020
Microbiology
Low Vitamin D Levels are Linked to a Lack of Gut Microbiome Diversity
DEC 01, 2020
Low Vitamin D Levels are Linked to a Lack of Gut Microbiome Diversity
The link between the microbes we carry in our gastrointestinal tract and our health has become clear, and now researcher ...
Loading Comments...