‘Poop Pills’ Could Replace Fecal Transplants of Gut Bacteria

By Breanna Draxler | October 7, 2013 4:22 pm

fecal transplants can now be done with pills

If you’re one of those people that has trouble swallowing pills, try not to think what’s in these ones as they go down: A researcher has shown that encapsulated bacteria from human feces effectively treated 100 percent of patients with relapsing Clostridium difficile infections.

Every year, half a million Americans suffer such an infection. The resulting combination of cramps, nausea and diarrhea can range from uncomfortable to deadly; about 14,000 people die from C. difficile annually in the U.S. alone.

There are only two real treatment options for drug-resistant strains of the bacteria. One is an über powerful antibiotic (that wipes out good and bad bacteria alike, making the gut vulnerable to recolonization by friend or foe). The other is a fecal transplant by enema, colonoscopy, or a nasal tube to the gut.

The latter has proven effective in about 9 out of 10 patients, but still has a strong ick-factor to overcome. The recently announced pills provide fecal transplant in a more palatable form [no pun intended].

Here’s how it goes down, according to The Daily Mail,

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… It takes 24 to 34 capsules to fit the bacteria needed for a treatment, and patients down them in one sitting.

The doctor, Thomas Louie, shared his results at an infectious disease conference in San Francisco last week.

Louie described 27 patients treated this way… All had suffered at least four C-diff infections and relapses, but none had a recurrence after taking the poop pills.

While less gross than the alternative, the pills have to be custom-made and are therefore much pricier to produce. Infectious-disease specialist Tom Moore told Nature,

“It’ll be difficult to compete with the ready availability and very cheap costs of human poop.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
  • Buddy199

    It takes 24 to 34 capsules to fit the bacteria needed for a treatment, and patients down them in one sitting.

    ——–

    Good God, don’t tell us what they wash it down with.

    • MIKE WITORT

      my nAME IS DOC MIKE AND I HAVE BEEN TELLING MY PATIENTS ABOUT FECAL THERAPY FOR ABOUT 4 YEARS.IT IS FANTASTIC. I HAVE DONE IT WITH MY OWN FECAL MATTER AND HAVE HAD NO ILL EFFECTS. HOMEOPATHICALLY IT WORKS EVEN BETTER..NO MUSS NO FUSS. AN Y QUESTIONS CALL ME AT 708 488 8887 ANY TIME NIGHT OR DAY. OR VISIT MY WEBSITE WAKEUPWELL.ORG GOD BLESS

  • http://www.ebog.me/ ebog

    Heard it was horrible. Is it really better disease resistance characteristics pills conventional treatment, Drug treatment of human faeces sounded terrible. I really do not trust enough to take it off again.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Betterose Ryan

      I used conventional treatment and almost died from it. I don’t know which would be worse. Fortunately I stopped the treatment and recovered and was double fortunate that I had taken enough to control the C-diff for good.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Kiki Follmer

    As someone who has suffered from c-diff and knows how horrible it is, I would do this in a heartbeat. I suffer from terrible digestive issues and have been awaiting news on these poop transplants and if they work. A former co-worker died after suffering 6 months of c-diff and pneumonia as after they would treat one, the other would come back, a horrible way to die and I’m sure she too would have gladly taken anything to stop the c-diff if it would have saved her life. I’ve had nothing worse in my life than c-diff, you WISH you were dead.

    • MotherGinger

      Just do it. Find someone who doesn’t have problems with bloating, frequent infections, or other obvious digestive/neurological/immune conditions, get a sample, and google how to do the enema yourself. Why wait?

  • niggr

    Breanna Draxler, reports are for ret@rds like her.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Holly Harken

    I recall reading an article in Discover Magazine a few years ago about how a patient was cured by using her husband’s fecal matter in an IV bag. No pills, enema or any other method of getting it into a person. Why won’t that still work?

    • bachcole

      It works. People still do it.

    • Marc Seewald

      The IV bag wasn’t dripping into her bloodstream, it was most likely connected to a nasal tube into her gut. Nasal tubes are not fun (but more fun than C.Diff).

      This is basically a way of doing the fecal transplant without having to do the uncomfortable methods of getting the fecal matter to your gut… Personally I would take the surefire methods just to make sure it was done well.

  • Doug McKinley Sr.

    Any estimate of how much the 24 to 34 capsules will cost to process and manufacture?

  • bachcole

    This is probably only the beginning, and it could be a huge blow to the pharmaceutical mafia.

    The capsules in the picture are NOT enteric, and the capsules have to be enteric, unless of course you don’t mind them dissolving in your stomach (delightful) and being destroyed by your hydrochloric acid.

    • bob

      I don’t think you realize how deeply entrenched the pharmaceutical companies are in the healthcare system.

  • bachcole

    This idea and technology could be very useful for many diseases. But don’t expect MDs to embrace it because their drug company handlers will not make any money off of it. Also doctors are fixated on sterility, and this technology is not exactly sterile, sort of the diametric opposite of sterile.

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