Poop Can Help Treat Clostridium Difficile Infection

Posted: Aug 28 2015, 7:00am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Poop Can Help Treat Clostridium Difficile Infection
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  • Feces or poop can help treat Clostridium difficile infection.
  • This disease kills nearly 15,000 Americans every year.

An Aug. 27 CNN article reveals feces or poop can help treat Clostridium difficile infection. This disease kills nearly 15,000 Americans every year.

Poop can help treat Clostridium difficile infection. 

CNN.com's John Bonifield and Eizabeth Cohen wrote a featured article on Aug. 27. The article's title is "One Man's Poop Is Another Man's Medicine."

They write about "Eric." He is a 24-year-old research assistant at the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology. 

Eric goes to a men's room near MIT. He puts a plastic collection bag inside the toilet before he defecates. He then zips the bag up. He takes his feces to OpenBiome. It is a small Boston laboratory which examines the medical uses of fecal material, per CNN. 

Lab technician Christina Kim weighs Eric's sample. He has visited the laboratory 29 times over a two-and-a-half-month span. His total fecal material weighs 10.6 pounds.

That amount is enough to treat 133 patients afflicted with Clostridium difficile, per CNN.  

Patients who take antibiotics are at risk of developing this diarrheal infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms this.

More often than not, doctors give hospital patients an antibiotic. Thirty to fifty percent of these antibiotic prescriptions are incorrect. 

Whenever a person takes antibiotics, his body can suppress good bacteria inside his gut. The bacteria protects against infection. They can be "suppressed for several weeks to months," per CDC.gov

This is when a person is at risk of getting the Clostridium difficile infection. Contaminated sufaces and person-to-person contact can spread this infection, per CDC.gov. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is prevalent among older individuals. One out of three patients are 65 years or older. Women and caucasian people are at an increased risk. 

For its part, OpenBiome only accepts fecal matter samples from healthy people.

The laboratory issues a 109-point clinical assessment. The donor must have a healthy weight. OpenBiome also disqualifies drug and antibiotic users. It also disqualifies those who got recent tattoos and traveled to a region with an epidemic, per CNN. 

The donor's stool and blood must be infection-free, per Bonifield and Cohen. 

In the end, OpenBiome approves only three percent of prospective donors. It pays these donors $40 per sample. The CNN update says Eric has earned around $1,000 so far.

Bonifield and Cohen say fecal matter contains good bacteria. This bacteria can save people who have the C. difficile infection:

"A hundred trillion bacteria live inside your gut; some good, some bad. When patients take antibiotics for infections, sometimes they fail to work; good bacteria gets killed off while bad bacteria -- C. difficile -- grows unchecked.

"The life-saving bacteria from the guts of people from the guts of people like Eric can help. When their healthy microbes are placed inside the intestines of a sick person they can chase out harmful C. difficile bacteria. 

"It's called a fecal transplant. The treatments are administered bottom-up, through a colonoscopy, or top-down, through a tube in the nose." 

The fecal transplant costs $385. OpenBiome serves 350 hospitals in 47 states, per CNN. 

OpenBiome told CNN it has administered five thousand treatments to C. difficile patients. An amazing 90 percent of them are cured.  

Mark Smith is the research director of OpenBiome. He told CNN it is difficult to find committed donors. He added patients who received a fecal transplant enjoyed fast results:

"It takes a lot of time and effort to find these donors. When we do find them, we want to keep them as engaged as possible and really want to compensate them for their time. 

"They'll actually have this really transformational experience where they'll be going to the bathroom 20 times a day and they have normal bowel movements sort of immediately or the next day." 

There are seven type of stool in the Bristol Stool Chart. The perfect type is type three, per CNN.

OpenBiome has stored Eric's 133 poop samples in a freezer. He still must pass a second health screening test, per Bonifield and Cohen.

Eric is amazed as he stares at his own stool samples. He told CNN he never donated them for the money:   

"That's fantastic! Holy cow! It's unreal. I never thought I would be staring at my poop frozen in a freezer destined to help people across the country. It's really cool.

"Not at all. It's a nice perk, of course." 

There are six thousand other donors who are on OpenBiome's queue. The laboratory interviews only 50 people weekly, per CNN. 

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The Author

Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.




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