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Faecal transplants can treat bowel condition, but scientists are making a ‘less smelly’ alternative

Faecal transplants can treat agonising bowel condition, find scientists who are now trying to make a ‘less smelly’ alternative to the grim procedure

  • Scientists are hoping to develop a pill containing bacteria to improve gut health
  • This would be designed specifically for people with ulcerative colitis
  • It comes after faecal transplants showed to reduce symptoms of the condition 

Researchers are aiming to develop a pill that is an alternative to faecal transplants – but ‘less smelly’.

Faecal microbiota transplantations (FMT), as they are scientifically known, have been proven to help treat a range of stomach conditions.

And new research by the University of Adelaide has found the grim procedure can help thousands of ulcerative colitis patients.

But the scientists behind the study admitted they are hoping to find a ‘better option’ than taking ‘whole faeces’ from patients.

Scientists aim to develop a pill for the treatment of people suffering with inflammatory bowel disease as a ‘less smelly’ option than faecel transplants

Lead author Dr Sam Costello said: ‘Our long-term aim is to develop rationally designed microbial therapies that can replace FMT.

‘These will have bacteria in a pill that can carry out the therapeutic effect without the need to take whole faeces. This is obviously a better and less smelly option.’

Further studies will investigate whether FMT can maintain remission over a longer period. 

The transplant is done via tubes – inserted into the nostril, down the throat and into the stomach – or directly into the colon.

However, the faecal sample can also be transplanted through enemas or pills containing freeze-dried material.

FMT can replenish levels of bacteria in the gut, with faecal samples often containing up to 1,000 different species.  

FMT is most commonly used to treat recurring C. difficile infection – spread by bacterial spores found within faeces. It is 90 per cent effective.

It is also thought to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation – but success rates are much lower. 

The latest FMT study focused solely on colitis, when the large bowel becomes inflamed. It affects one in every 420 people.

Seventy-three patients battling the agonising condition were recruited for the trial. 

Patients received either stool transplanted from a healthy person with normal gut bacteria, or their own stool as a placebo.

This was done with a colonoscopy procedure followed by two enemas – which act as a bowel cleanser – over a week. 

Researchers found 32 per cent of patients given FMT saw relief from their symptoms, compared to nine per cent in the placebo group. 

After 12 months, nearly half of those who were in remission at eight weeks following the faecal transplant were still rid of their symptoms. 

The results of the study, published in JAMA, are similar to the best currently available therapies, according to the researchers.

On the back of their findings, the team are working with UK company Microbiotica to commercialise the development of a microbial therapeutic.

Microbial therapies are derived from naturally occurring microorganisms – in this case the faecal matter of one human for the benefit of another. 

The method reduces the potential side effects that other current medication may cause, such as infection, scientists claim.

WHAT IS A FAECAL MICROBIOTA TRANSPLANT? THE BIZARRE PROCEDURE THAT REBALANCES BACTERIA IN THE STOMACH

Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is the transfer of stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient.

WHAT CAN IT TREAT? 

It is most commonly used to treat recurring C. difficile infection – spread by bacterial spores found within faeces. It is 90 per cent effective.

It can also be used to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation – but success rates are much lower. 

Recent studies have delved into the benefits of treating conditions linked to a poor balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut, such as autism. 

Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is the transfer of stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient

Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is the transfer of stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient

FMT can replenish bacterial balance as it acts like a probiotic, with samples of faeces often containing up to 1,000 different species of bacteria.  

HOW IS IT PERFORMED?

The transplant is done via tubes – inserted into the nostril, down the throat and into the stomach – or directly into the colon.

However, the faecal sample can also be transplanted through enemas or pills containing freeze-dried material.

IS IT SAFE?

There have been reports of patients showing unexpected weight gain after treatment, bouts of vomiting and even abdominal pain.

However, the long-term safety and effectiveness of FMT is relatively unknown, and researchers have called for more studies to determine the risks. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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