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 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 04, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Molecular Tools Reveal More About the Impacts of the Slave Trade
MAY 04, 2020
Molecular Tools Reveal More About the Impacts of the Slave Trade
Scientists still have a lot to learn about the numerous and varied consequences of the transatlantic slave trade, which ...
MAY 21, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Fidget Spinner Diagnoses Infections
MAY 21, 2020
Fidget Spinner Diagnoses Infections
The fidget spinner toy craze took the world by storm — a small, boomerang-shaped gadget that rotates hypnotically ...
JUL 13, 2020
Microbiology
New Gene Editor Can Alter Mitochondrial DNA
JUL 13, 2020
New Gene Editor Can Alter Mitochondrial DNA
There is intense competition for resources in the microbial world, and bacteria have an arsenal of weapons to help them ...
JUL 20, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
A Tiny But Efficient Cas Protein is Discovered in a Bacteriophage
JUL 20, 2020
A Tiny But Efficient Cas Protein is Discovered in a Bacteriophage
The microbes of the world are locked in a struggle for survival and a battle for resources. They compete directly in dif ...
JUL 24, 2020
Microbiology
Ticks Carrying Heartland Virus Found in Illinois
JUL 24, 2020
Ticks Carrying Heartland Virus Found in Illinois
In two counties in Illinois, a pathogen continues its emergence. Researchers have found that Lone Star ticks there are c ...
JUL 26, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How SARS-CoV-2 Works
JUL 26, 2020
How SARS-CoV-2 Works
Cell biologist Carolyn Machamer has studied viruses for the past 35 years, and has seen outbreaks caused by several path ...
Loading Comments...