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Faecal Transplants: Could They Save Your Life?

faecal transplant

Would you give it a go?

Humanosity has been looking at new technologies and found something surprising. Scientists are in the process of creating a procedure which promises to cure antibiotic-resistant infections. Faecal Microbiota Transplantations, also known as FTM have been documented as far back as the fourth century by Chinese doctors, however, it has recently made its way into popular culture.

The transplants, originally designed to treat Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff infections (CDI’s) affects those who have commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin’s, fluoroquinolones and clindamycin. 

The disease exists harmlessly in the intestines of around 5% of healthy people and the people that are at greatest risk of the infection are the elderly. The reason for this is because, over time, antibiotics destroy the normal flora of the gut. This then produces the aforementioned toxins that damage the intestines. The result? Severe pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and in the worst case, fatality. It is here where the faecal transplants can help. The transplant repopulates the microbiome with the new, healthy bacteria. 

So, how does it work?  

It does pretty much what it says on the tin. The procedure begins with receiving a transplant of gut microbes from a volunteer who has healthy insides. All samples are tested for a wide range of pathogens and screening the tests need to be definitive. The faeces are then inserted into the gut of the patient, often by colonoscopy. 

When injected, the body is introduced to new beneficial microbes to the patient’s digestive system, which will most certainly positively transform the life of the receiver. In fact, studies show that faecal transplants have an 80% success rate in treating C diff infections, and many patients feel better within hours. By 2014, the procedure was accepted enough that the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidelines allowing faecal transplants to be used in clinical practice. Now, there are more than 300 clinical trials listed on https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ that are using FMT to treat a range of conditions: autism, dementia, anorexia, and obesity being a few.

Is it a poo panacea? 

Although there have been incredible outcomes from this development, the results are not always conclusive. For example, the outcome for inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease has yielded mixed results. Like everything, it is important to understand and research future risks. Could you potentially be transferring someone’s bacteria who has a history of cancer, diabetes or obesity?

This article was based on an article from the Guardian article. Click here to read more.

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