Fecal Pill Treats Gut Infection

In a preliminary study, patients with recurring Clostridium difficile infections found relief from diarrhea by ingesting frozen fecal matter from healthy volunteers.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob started with The Scientist as a staff writer in 2007. Before joining the team, he worked as a reporter at Audubon and earned a master’s degree in science journalism...

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Oct 11, 2014

Clostridium difficile sporesWIKIMEDIA, CJC2NDA handful of patients suffering from recurrent Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) experienced a cessation of the violent diarrhea that is a hallmark of the disease after ingesting frozen, encapsulated feces from healthy, unrelated volunteers. The results of the preliminary study to test the efficacy of the new twist on fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) were published today (October 11) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“If reproduced in future studies . . . these results may help make FMT accessible to a wider population of patients, in addition to potentially making the procedure safer,” the authors of the JAMA paper wrote. “The use of capsules obviates the need for invasive procedures for administration, further increasing the safety of FMT . . . and significantly reducing cost.”

CDIs are downright nasty to the human gut. They cause extreme diarrhea, abdominal pain, and,...

In the new study, conducted by Ilan Youngster of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and colleagues, the new treatment—which uses frozen fecal matter rather than gelatin coated microbial extracts—cleared up diarrhea in 18 out of 20 CDI patients, and the benefits persisted for up to 8 weeks after administration.