RESEARCH: Pills made from human poop cure gut infections
Canadian researchers have announced that they’ve found a way to put healthy people’s poop into pills that can cure serious abdominal infections.
Researchers dosed 27 patients and were able to cure them all after even strong antibiotics failed to help any of the patients.
Gut infections are a serious problem in the United States. It is estimated that about 500,000 Americans get Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, infections each year, and about 14,000 die from it.
The germ causes nausea, cramping and diarrhea so bad it is often disabling to the patient. A very potent and highly priced antibiotic can kill C-diff but also destroys good bacteria that live in the gut, leaving it more susceptible to future infections, according to the Associated Press.
Several studies have shown that fecal implants, giving infected people stool from a healthy donor can restore the infected person’s body balance. But such implants can be expensive and invasive.
Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, devised a better way to deliver the donor stool. Put it into a coated gel capsule so it won’t dissolve until it reaches the patient’s intestines where it is needed.
“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, Louie told the AP.
It takes 24 to 34 capsules to fit the bacteria needed for a treatment, and patients take them all at once.
Dr. Curtis Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who has done fecal transplants through colonoscopies, praised the work.
“The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel — no one else has done this,” he said. “I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians.”