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09 Dec 2022 - 11 Dec 2022

Fecal Transplantation an Effective Remedy for Life-Threatening Intestinal Infections

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Sep 2022
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Image: Fecal transplantation completely cured over 90% of patients in a study (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: Fecal transplantation completely cured over 90% of patients in a study (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

The life-threatening disease Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) is a kind of “weed” bacterium that can grow if there are no other bacteria to stop it. Clostridioides can for example grow in the intestine after a patient has received antibiotics that have broken down the patient’s natural intestinal bacteria. The standard treatment to combat C. difficile infection currently consists of antibiotics, but the infection is stubborn and may return to many patients. In some cases, the infection can be fatal, because the usual treatment options are insufficient. Now, a new study has found that feces transplantation in the intestine is an effective cure – and far superior to today’s standard treatment – for this life-threatening infection.

In the study, the researchers from Aarhus University (Aarhus, Denmark) examined the ground-breaking fecal transplantation treatment for patients infected with C. difficile, which typically affects elderly or vulnerable patients. The results of the study were extremely encouraging. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) treatment is performed by transferring healthy donor feces, which contain a complete microbial intestinal ecosystem, to patients with disorders in their intestinal microbiota. FMT treatment is currently only available in connection with the most stubborn cases, in which three or more infections have been registered.

However, the study, in which 42 patients participated, suggests that the vast majority of patients could be completely cured through the new treatment. In the study, the effect of the treatment was so significant that the project had to be stopped for ethical reasons. There are also many indications that FMT is not just an effective treatment for patients with C. difficile: the treatment is also being tested on a wide range of other diseases where disturbances in the intestinal microbiota may be a triggering factor.

“Our new study shows that we can effectively cure the infection through the early use of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) after completing the standard treatment, to prevent relapses,” said Simon Mark Dahl Baunwall, a PhD student at the Department of Clinical Medicine and a doctor at Aarhus University Hospital.

“We found that treatment with FMT after completing the standard treatment cured 19 out of 21 patients, whereas only seven out of 21 treated with a placebo or another antibiotic were cured. In other words, the probability of curing the infection is three times greater after treatment with FMT than with our current standard treatment alone,” explained Baunwall. “Our study is one example, in that the new FMT treatment is so much better than the standard treatment with antibiotics that it would be unethical to continue, because the patients in the control group would risk not receiving the FMT treatment.”

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