Fecal transplant is a life-saving procedure for those who are suffering from bacterial infections such as the Clostridium difficile or CDI, which is a spore-forming bacterium that causes severe diarrhea.
In a previous report by Inquisitr, a study showed that fecal transplants work better than antibiotics in fighting CDI. Fecal transplant, the act of transferring fecal bacteria from a healthy person to someone suffering from CDI through colonoscopy, is not for the faint of heart. Now, doctors have come up with a better solution that makes fecal transplant safer and easier.
Doctors at the Massachusetts General Hospital have found a way to make fecal transplants easier for patients. According to NPR, researchers first tried to deliver the fecal transplant through a tube that goes through the nose and straight to the stomach.
Although the procedure is effective, it was quite difficult for a patient. Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann, a physician at Mass General, said that the procedure was not ideal for patients, as getting the tube down the nose is a problem, and there is a possibility of the patient inhaling fecal matter when they vomited or gagged.
Doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Boston Children’s Hospital have found a simpler way to do fecal transplant in the form of frozen poop pills. The study was published on the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Getting stool samples to transplant to patients who need them immediately may be time consuming, and screening poop and donors can take days or even weeks. The researchers tested the possibility of using frozen poop pills that are made ahead of time and can be stored until needed by a patient.
According to LA Times, stool samples were gathered from four healthy donors who had no antibiotics present in their body. Their blood was tested for bacterium that causes syphilis, hepatitis A, B, and C, as well as HIV. The stool samples were also tested for several intestinal pathogens. After a month, the donors were screened again to make sure that they do not suffer from hepatitis or HIV.
The stool samples were mixed in a blender together with saline, and then strained to remove large particles. The mixture was then placed into capsules that consists of 1.6 grams of fecal matter. The poop pills were then frozen at 112 degrees below zero.
Twenty patients suffering from CDI took the pills from July of last year until January this year. All of the patients suffered from mild to moderate CDI, and had at least two episodes of severe diarrhea that they had to be brought to the hospital. Before taking the frozen poop pills, the patients were experiencing diarrhea up to 30 times daily.
The 20 patients took 15 frozen poop pills daily, two days in a row. Out of the 20 patients, 14 patients’ diarrhea stopped for two months, but one patient relapsed. The remaining six patients took another 30 pills for seven days. Out of the six patients, five were cured of the diarrhea.
After the study, results showed that the frozen poop pills were effective in getting rid of the diarrhea in 90 percent of the patients suffering from CDI. The poop pills took an average of four days to take effect. Researchers said that none of the 20 patients vomited after taking the pills.
The study is still in its preliminary stages, but researchers are hoping that this is a step towards making fecal transplants more accessible and safer for those who need them.
[Image via NPR]