Fecal Transplants Now Available in Pill Form
Fecal transplants, a relatively new medical procedure, have become that much easier and accessible via a new form, a pill.
The pill is made by OpenBiome, a stool bank that would send fecal samples to people who needed treatment for serious stomach conditions like C. difficile, The New York Times reports.
The pill's development took more than a year, and its success was recently made public at a conference in Europe. A major challenge OpenBiome had to overcome was the fact the feces had to be frozen and freeze dried. OpenBiome eventually developed a pill that captured microbes in a watery fat.
Patients then swallow the pill and it dissolves in the upper small intestine.
When the pill was tested, a dose of 30 pills cure 70 percent of patients battling C. difficile. Those who were not cured in the first go, often found success with the second, when the success rate rose to 94 percent.
The entire idea is that a person's mirco biome, or the veritable universe of bacteria that lives in a person's stomach, is best treated by introducing natural bacteria from another person rather than through artificial treatments like antibiotics, which themselves can sometimes trigger problems in the micro biome by wiping out the "good" bacteria people need to maintain healthy bodily functions like digestion.
Antibiotics can sometimes kill all the other bacteria needed in the mirco biome, allowing C. difficile to spread, killing 15,000 annually. Making matters worse is that C. difficile is increasingly resistant to antibiotics, limiting the possible treatments that doctors can give to patients.
Before the pill, fecal transplants had to be done via an invasive means like an enema or colonoscopy, further limiting the appeal of a treatment that involves inserting someone else's excrement into one's body.