Poop Technologies Take A Bold Step Forward

Do you have a favourite medical procedure? Because I do. The technical name for the procedure is fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), which can otherwise be described as a "poop transplant." It is the most effective treatment against C. difficile and other bowel disorders, like IBS. The science behind the procedure is that healthy bacterial fecal flora from a donor is introduced to the system of the patient, to replenish or help spur the development of such bacteria in the inflicted person.

Now, when I say this is my favourite medical procedure, I don't mean that I like having it done, as like a weekend hobby. I like the science behind it, and I love the reactions this procedure gets from people the first time they hear about it. I reacted this way, as has everyone. First, there is disbelief. Then, there is amazement. Then a tiny bit of disgust. Then more amazement. Then the need to tell absolutely everyone you encounter in a day about poop transplants. And the crazy thing is, everyone find out about it in their own time. It isn't one of those things that hits the net and everyone knows about it by the end of the week. I found out about it six years ago when a coworker of mine was diagnosed with C. diff. Stephen Colbert found out about it two years ago. Kelly Ripa learnt about it last Friday.

And there is exciting news on this front. Dr. Tom Louie, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Calgary, has been using the FMT method for years to great results. However, the nature of the procedure (a colonoscopy is involved, and that's not fun for anyone) has lead him to create a pill that can deliver the same bacterial load to the patient without the invasive procedure. He has tested his home made pills on nearly thirty of his patients, all with positive results. According to Dr. Louie, these pills are easier for the patient, but are not yet  viable on any kind of scale, saying, "I think the thing is that if you're going to take poop and process it into capsules, you need to have a specific lab that is geared up to do that."

Dr. Louie's procedures involves taking the harvested... sorry, donated fecal matter, and diluting and separating out the bacteria needed. For every 200 grams of fecal matter, he was able to produce a couple teaspoons of concentrated material, which are then sealed in three layers of gelatin capsules, to survive the trip through the stomach and into the intestines. Despite the time and effort it takes to create each pill for each patient, it is a significant improvement over the previous alternative to the "direct injection," a nasogastric tube inserted in a nostril, and lead through the stomach into the intestines. Dr. Louie is continue his research, and working with colleagues in Britain to fine tune the specific bacteria needed to counter the effects of the C. diff, hopefully making it easier to obtain and produce on a larger scale.

Via the CBC.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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