Oct. 3, 2013
Hold your nose and don’t spit out your coffee: Doctors have found a way to put healthy people’s poop into pills that can cure serious gut infections — a less yucky way to do “fecal transplants.” Canadian researchers tried this on 27 patients and cured them all after strong antibiotics failed to help.
It’s a gross topic but a serious problem. Half a million Americans get Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, infections each year, and about 14,000 die. The germ causes nausea, cramping and diarrhea so bad it is often disabling. A very potent and pricey antibiotic can kill C-diff but also destroys good bacteria that live in the gut, leaving it more susceptible to future infections.
Recently, studies have shown that fecal transplants — giving infected people stool from a healthy donor — can restore that balance. But they’re given through expensive, invasive procedures like colonoscopies or throat tubes. Doctors also have tried giving the stool through enemas but the treatment doesn’t always take hold.