DEC 21, 2016 10:25 AM PST

Understanding & Improving Fecal Microbiota Transplants

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The first fecal transplant was done in humans in 1958, but has garnered a lot of interest as a beneficial therapeutic in more recent times. New research, briefly summarized in the video below, could improve the efficacy of fecal transplants, a therapy that is being tested for a variety of conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract and is a widely accepted treatment for recurrent infections from the Clostridium difficile bacterium.

C. dificile disrupts the microbial community living in the gut, called the microbiome. When the microbiome is perturbed, it can have a detrimental effect on health in many ways and restoration of the balance of gut microbes is important. A fecal transplant allows for the reestablishment of a healthy microbiome. The C.dificile infection causes abdominal pain and cramping as well as diarrhea. There have been a multitude of studies investigating how well fecal transplants work to aid patients, which have found that cure rates are often near 90 percent.

"Treating patients with recurrent C. difficile infection with microorganisms alone provides cure or reduction of symptoms at a rate many times higher than any drug or chemical that has ever been looked at. These cure rates of 94% and 96% are astronomical, and it is all due to the power of microbes, " said Michael Sadowsky, PhD, Director of the BioTechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota. "I think the future of medicine in the 21st century is to use the power of microbes to cure diseases."

This new work, published in mBio, an open access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, has found which microbes are most effective in the fecal transplant procedure. The microbes from donor samples were purified and transplanted into patients to find which conferred the most benefit. The researchers used next-generation sequencing to assay the microbial populations of patients and donors.

Their findings surprised them; while they met expectations by curing around 90 percent of patients, some people who had received a placebo treatment, made up of their own fecal sample, were also cured. The researchers were able to determine that the patients cured by placebo already had some types of curative bacteria in their guts, strains that were boosted when they got the placebo.

"As opposed to what we thought, complete engraftment of microbiota is not required to cure a patient," said Sadowsky. "The study provides insight into which microorganisms are the most important for curing C. difficile and may allow clinicians to better tailor therapy, by improving donor material to facilitate a more rapid, effective, and lasting cure."

Scientists can use this new data to optimize their treatments. "This paper provides us data with which microbes to supplement into our preparations," Sadowsky concluded.

If you’d like to know more about the use of fecal transplant therapy to treat C. dificile infections, check out the video above from Johns Hopkins University.

 

Sources: UPI via ASM, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Johns Hopkins University, mBio

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 12, 2021
Coronavirus
Real-World, Post-Delta COVID-19 Vaccine Data & Potential Treatment
SEP 12, 2021
Real-World, Post-Delta COVID-19 Vaccine Data & Potential Treatment
New research may have identified a potential treatment or preventive medication for SARS-CoV-2 and other viral infection ...
SEP 24, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Protecting the Mango Plant with Signal Interference
SEP 24, 2021
Protecting the Mango Plant with Signal Interference
Researchers made huge steps in mitigating the virulence of a mango plant toxin by exploiting the bacteria and signal pat ...
OCT 03, 2021
Microbiology
Using a New Approach to Assess Aging & the Microbiome
OCT 03, 2021
Using a New Approach to Assess Aging & the Microbiome
Metagenomic tools enable scientists to easily sequence all of the DNA in any sample, like soil, or feces. The results ca ...
NOV 01, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
How SARS-CoV-2 Evades Antiviral Defenses
NOV 01, 2021
How SARS-CoV-2 Evades Antiviral Defenses
Researchers have learned a lot about the SARS-CoV-2 virus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that he viru ...
NOV 09, 2021
Microbiology
Can This Cat Parasite Become a Tumor Treatment?
NOV 09, 2021
Can This Cat Parasite Become a Tumor Treatment?
You may have heard of Toxoplasma gondii because it is so common. Cats carry this parasite, and anyone that cleans a litt ...
DEC 02, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Gut Bacteria Slip Into the Pancreas, Cause Cancer
DEC 02, 2021
Gut Bacteria Slip Into the Pancreas, Cause Cancer
  Scientists have connected the dots between bacteria in the digestive system and an increased risk of malignant pa ...
Loading Comments...