Doctors in Canada have devised a new pill using good bacteria from healthy people’s poop as a cure for people with serious intestinal infections. The new ‘fecal implant’ method has been found successful in 27 patients who tried this treatment after even the strongest antibiotics failed to help.
People who have Clostridium difficile (C-diff) infections experience debilitating nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. One very powerful and expensive antibiotic kills C-diff, but it also kills the good bacteria that is present in our digestive tract. Without these good bacteria, patients are more susceptible to infections in the future.
Fecal transplants, a process of implanting stool from a healthy donor, were the solution in restoring the good bacteria in C-diff patients. However, these transplants are expensive and invasive procedures, and alternative transplants through enemas did not guarantee results.
Dr Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist in Canada devised the custom-made treatment in capsule form. In Dr Louie’s method, the good bacteria are extracted from donor stool, preferably from a relative, and then the bacteria are made into triple-coated gel capsules that dissolve in the intestines. Dr Louie said, “There’s no stool left — just stool bugs. These people are not eating poop.” Since the contents of the capsule are not released until after it reached the intestines, patients will not experience any smelly burps.
The treatment course includes 24 to 34 of these ‘poop’ capsules that the patients consume at one go. The pills then make their way to the colon and “seed it with the normal variety of bacteria.” “This approach, to me, has wide application in medicine,” Dr Louie said. “So it’s not just about C-diff.” He believes that his pills will help even patients who are vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant germs.