18 April 2016

Donate your poo to help people live a healthier life

A new technique called fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) used to help people with recurrent intestinal infections who do not respond to standard treatment relies on one very important thing: people's poo donations.

C.difficile infections are devastating for people who suffer from it as their quality of life is tremendously impaired due to frequent and painful diarrhoea episodes.
This infectious infection is due to the overgrowth of a gut bacterium called clostridium difficile and usually occurs after taking broad-spectrum antibiotics or any antibiotic for a long period of time. People may have underlying conditions that make them more susceptible of overgrowing or contracting that infection, which is detected by poo analysis.

Ironically, standard treatment for c.diff is a course of another antibiotic. Although people usually respond well, one in five persons will have recurring symptoms. For them, a vicious cycle of diarrhoea and antibiotics starts with sometimes no hope in sight.

That was until friends and relatives of a sufferer decided to create OpenBiome in 2012 (US based) after seeing him recovering completely following a fecal transplantation.

The principle of this technique is fairly simple: healthy donors have healthy balanced microbiota in their gut and poo and by 'inserting' that poo in a sick person's gut, the healthy bugs in the poo take over and rebalance the sick person's gut flora.

It may sound gross but this is a life-saving technique for people with this infection. It could also become more mainstream as this technique has also been suggested for a whole range of diseases including obesity (a trial has recently started to assess efficacy of poo pills on our weight - article coming soon).

But don't think it's easy to donate and get money from your poo. To be accepted as a poo donor, you have to be pretty clean-living in order to have the perfect balance of bugs' species in your poo.

For more information, visit OpenBiome.

Would you donate your poo if you knew it could help so many people? Would you agree to swallow a poo pill if it cured you of painful and recurrent diarrhoea?

Feel free to share your stories in the comments section, I'd love to read them.

See you next Monday!


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