Fecal Microbiota Transplants and C. difficile

 

Image result for c diff

On September 6th, 2017, the organization known as PETA or the People for the ethical treatment of animals called out to their vegan brethren to donate their stool…for SCIENCE! [1]  For those who are unaware, Fecal Microbiota Transplants or FMT’s are a relatively new but promising treatment for individuals who have had their guts ravaged by the pathogenic bacteria Clostridium difficile.C. diff is an obligate-anaerobic, Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria that are quite common in the human digestive tract. However, they are often outcompeted by other bacteria which means they rarely pose a threat…that is until say an antibiotic wipes out all the competition. [2]

 

C. difficile infections are incredibly uncomfortable with symptoms including diarrhea, fever, and nausea and can prove deadly as it can lead to perforation of the colon and even sepsis. This pathogen is spread through fecal-oral transmission via resilient spores on surfaces which is why Clostridium difficile is one of the most common and difficult Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI’s) for hospitals to combat.[3]

Fecal Microbiota Treatments are not a modern invention. Medical journals from four century China mentions a form of FMT being used to treat severe diarrhea.[4] Fecal transplants for C. diff were popularized by a case in 2003. Since then, interest in the procedure has only grown, however as new studies emerge concerning our gut microbiome, we are finding we still know very little about the subject.

Studies of the human microbiome have come to some wild conclusions lately. The bacteria in your gut could be responsible for everything from your mood, your weight, or even to how your body combats autoimmune diseases.[5] With all of these studies, samples from distinct people are needed, but what about medicine? Who has the most valuable excrement for medical donation? There are two stool banks in the United States that highly screen applicant health and work with specimens to make medicine. AdvancingBio in California and OpenBiome in Massachusetts are the sources of FMT pills –yes, Fecal Microbiota Transplants are taken orally.

Image result for fecal microbiota transplant pill
Neither of these facilities favors vegan donors for the simple reason that there just isn’t enough information to support the assertion that vegans produce the superior stool. Jonathan A. Eisen, a professor at the University of California, Davis, states, “We know remarkably little about the microbiome of vegans. There are only a few papers that address this directly and only a few more that address it indirectly. As far as I know, there is no published data on whether vegans are good FMT donors.” In fact, OpenBiome denounced the idea that diet even has bearing on the value or effectiveness of a donor’s sample.[6]

All of this does not necessarily mean that vegans are not the perfect source of poop for FMT’s, but as Jack Gilbert of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory put it, there are just “too many variables to consider.” We simply do not yet know. We may begin practicing a millennia-old Chinese remedy regularly but scientists are working diligently to identify the multitude of variables. The rest of us simply need to be patient and let the scientific method triumph. Who knows, one day, we may find the number one candidate for number twos. [7]

At the end of the day, while new cures for Clostridium difficile Infections will by no means go unappreciated, first and foremost on the minds of hospitals should be prevention. A disease prevented is one without the need for a cure.

With that sentiment in mind, Hardy Diagnostics has introduced C. diff Banana Broth which is a selective and differential medium for recovering Clostridium difficile spores and vegetative cells from environmental sources. Clostridium difficile Infections are directly responsible for nearly 15,000 deaths per year and costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health costs. C. diff Banana Broth helps hospitals verify the efficacy of its cleaning crews so as to assure that rooms are not harboring tough to kill C. difficile spores.

For more information on C. diff Banana Broth, visit our website.

Or watch our C. diff Banana Broth informational video.

[1] https://www.peta.org/blog/youll-happy-know-vegan-poop-solid-gold/

[2]  “Frequently Asked Questions about Clostridium difficile for Healthcare Providers”. CDC. 6 March 2012. Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2016.

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/cdiff/cdiff-patient.html

[4]  Henning Gerke (December 2014). “Whats the lowdown on ‘fecal transplantation’?”. Health at Iowa. U of Iowa. Retrieved January 14, 2015.

[5] https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/23/ibm-has-launched-a-study-on-the-human-microbiome-and-its-role-in-disease/

[6] http://www.popsci.com/vegans-poop-for-fecal-matter-transplants#page-3

[7] http://www.popsci.com/vegans-poop-for-fecal-matter-transplants#page-3

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