In our archived article, titled Using fecal transfusion for treatment of Clostridium difficile infection, I discussed the most promising treatment for Clostridium difficile infection which is by fecal or stool transfusion from a person close to the patient, usually a spouse.
Now a new study claims “poop” made artificially in the lab not only cures the infection more effectively, but is safer, more stable and adaptable, and overcomes the “yuck” factor that puts patients, and some medical professionals, off this type of treatment.
Clostridium difficile infection
Some medications known as antibiotics when taken can kill what is called “good bacteria” in the intestines. This could result in “bad bacteria” taking the opportunity to cause diseases. One of such bacteria is called Clostridium difficile which cause severe diarrhea and life threatening inflammation of the bowel.
What is Fecal or stool transfusion?
The procedure involves collection of stool sample from a person close to the patient (usually a spouse).The sample is then checked for diseases in the lab.
If the sample is disease free then the sample is made liquid, after which a doctor inserts a tube (nasogastric tube) through the nose down until to the stomach.
The liquid sample is injected inside the tube and goes to stomach and then to the intestines where it helps to increase the number of good bacteria which fight off the “bad bacteria”.
Synthetic Poop Made in the Lab
The synthetic stool, called RePOOPulate, is the creation of Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Canada.
She made synthetic poop from purified intestinal bacteria grown in a piece of lab equipment that she and her team nicknamed the “Robo-gut”.
Robo-gut essentially mimics the environment of the gut so as to produce a “super-probiotic” mix of the friendly bacteria that exist in the large intestine of healthy humans.
For their proof of principle study, the researchers tested the synthetic stool on two patients with chronic C. difficile infections that were failing to respond to several rounds of antibiotics.
Both patients were free of symptoms within three days of treatment, and both still tested negative for C. difficile six months later.
During the follow up, the researchers also tested the microbial profiles of the gut environment of both patients. These showed that some of the features of the probiotic synthetic stool had persisted and stabilized in their intestines.
“This is important because most commercially available probiotics only colonize momentarily,” says Allen-Vercoe.
More Stable, Adaptable, and Safe
The team says their new synthetic stool is not only more effective, but also safer, more stable and adaptable than using donated human fecal matter to wipe out C. difficile.
The method can be tailored to individual patient needs, it is easily reproduced, and is more appealing to many patients and physicians, says Allen-Vercoe.
It is also safer, she adds, because since “the exact composition of the bacteria administered is known and can be controlled”, it eliminates the risk of transmitting an infectious disease.
Allen-Vercoe hopes her synthetic poop idea can also be used to treat other gastrointestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and even autism by replacing abnormal gut microbial ecosystems with healthier version.
Catharine Paddock PhD. (2013, January 11). Artificial “Poop” Cures Gut Superbug C. Difficile. Retrieved from Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/254864.php