According to an article in Health Day News on Thursday, pills containing poop could help treat gut infections and kill deadly bacteria in the intestines.
Until now, the transplantation of healthy fecal bacteria into a patient's gut to tackle Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, infections could only be done one of three ways: with an enema; a colonoscopy (placing a tube in the colon); or via a tube snaked through the nose and down the throat.
Now, however, Canadian scientists have created capsules containing a concentrate of fecal bacteria that can simply be swallowed by the patient.
Half a million Americans get C-diff, infections each year, and about 14,000 die. The germ causes nausea, cramping and diarrhea so bad it is often disabling. A very potent and pricey antibiotic can kill C-diff, but also destroys good bacteria that live in the gut, leaving it more susceptible to future infections.
Recently, studies have shown that fecal transplants - giving infected people stool from a healthy donor - can restore that balance. But they're given through expensive, invasive procedures like colonoscopies or throat tubes. Doctors also have tried giving the stool through enemas but the treatment doesn't always take hold.
Donor stool, usually from a relative, is processed in the lab to take out food and extract the bacteria and clean it. It is packed into triple-coated gel capsules so they won't dissolve until they reach the intestines.
"There's no stool left - just stool bugs. These people are not eating poop," and there are no smelly burps because the contents aren't released until they're well past the stomach, Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary said.
It takes 24 to 34 capsules to fit the bacteria needed for a treatment, and patients down them in one sitting. The pills make their way to the colon and seed it with the normal variety of bacteria.
Louie described 27 patients treated this way on Thursday at IDWeek, an infectious diseases conference in San Francisco. All had suffered at least four C-diff infections and relapses, but none had a recurrence after taking the poop pills.
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to receive (spam free) email notifications for top news articles.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
Got something to say? Say it on Examiner by following this link to sign up.
©2013 Emily M. Sutherlin. All Rights Reserved.