Frozen faecal capsules help stop gut infection

By Efrosini Costa

Frozen faecal capsules help stop gut infection
Capsules containing frozen faecal matter could help clear up C. difficile infections.

It may seem like an unorthodox way of treating a gut problem.

But for those who suffer from severe and chronic Clostridium difficile bugs, it is a welcomed new treatment.

Twenty participants were given the therapy, using material donated from volunteers, in an attempt to treat serious diarrhoea.

Each patient was given 15 capsules on two consecutive days. Surprisingly, 14 of the 20 people involved saw their symptoms disappear with no reoccurrence in the following months.

Another course of treatment saw only two people left with further worrying episodes of diarrhoea.

However, researchers warn this is not something you should try at home!

C. difficile is a bacteria that lives harmlessly in many people’s guts alongside hundred of other species, which all compete for space and food.

But some antibiotics can kill off C. difficile’s competitors, allowing other bugs to multiply and produce  masses of toxins and set off the balance in the gut.

This can lead to serious diarrhoea and in some cases could be fatal.

While strong antibiotics help some people, others go on to develop chronic infections.

The study builds on previous research that showed faecal transplants may help reset the balance of bacteria in the gut.

Successful faecal transplants, until now, generally involved administering fresh excrement through a tube directly into the colon.

But, writing in the journal of the American Medical Association, researchers argue that this way of administering the faecal matter is uncomfortable impractical and can carry risk for patients.

“The use of capsules simplifies the procedure immensely, potentially making it accessible to a greater population,” said Dr Ilan Youngster from Boston Children’s Hospital, who was also involved in the report,

“But while we are striving to make this treatment more accessible to patients it is important to remind people of the potential dangers of attempting ‘home brew’ faecal microbiota transplant using faecal material from family members or friends.

“This procedure should only be performed under strict medical supervision with material from thoroughly screened donors,” researchers urged.


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