Fecal Transplant in a Pill
There is a new treatment for C. diff infection that's safe, effective, and has no known down side except that it's disgusting to think about.
Kas Thomas is a longtime cognitive dissident and menace to sacred-cow-kind. A graduate of the University of California at Irvine and Davis (with degrees in biology and microbiology) and a former University of California Regents' Fellow, He has been a Technology Evangelist for Adobe Systems and currently operates Author-Zone.com, a resource site for indie authors.
Follow @kasthomas on Twitter.
From the recent Infectious Diseases Society of America meeting in San Francisco comes word of a new treatment for C. diff infection that's safe, effective, and has no known down side except that it's disgusting to think about.
The treatment: bacteria obtained from your relatives' excrement, in pill form.
Infections involving the intestinal bacterium Clostridium difficile sicken half a million Americans a year and kill 14,000 a year, making it a serious public health concern. Symptoms include severe diarrhea (20 times a day is not uncommon), abdominal pain, and fever, leading to dehydration, weakness, and life-threatening colitis.
How do you get it? Funny you should ask, because at the same IDSA conference, a paper was presented showing that antibiotics are severely overprescribed for bronchitis and sore throats (which are usually not treatable with antibiotics). The antibiotics wipe out good bacteria in your gut, paving the way for infection by C. diff, which is often already present as a minority species.
Fecal transplantation has become an increasingly common way to treat C. diff infection. It's effective about 90 percent of the time. But until now, it has typically involved receiving "donor" fecal material via enema, colonoscopic techniques, or nose tube. Not exactly convenient.
At the recent Infectious Disease Society meeting, University of Calgary researchers reported a high success rate when treating C. diff infections using custom-made pills. To make the pills, researchers purified fecal bacteria (often obtained from stool samples donated by patients' family members) and then encapsulated the concentrated bacteria in triple-gel-coated tablets. The gel coats ensured that the pills would not leak or dissolve until passing into the small intestine. In the study, patients ingested 24 to 34 pills. The success rate: 28 out of 28 patients cured.
The U. Calgary study has not yet been published. More information about it can be found here.
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- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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