Exciting news is afoot in the world of medical poop. Researchers have developed a new treatment for those suffering from Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, that puts gut-saving bacteria in a pill, doing away with the need for a traditional fecal transplant. In other words, you don't have to eat poop.
This new treatment stands to help thousands of people every year. C. difficile is a particularly nasty infection that causes uncontrollable vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. It affects half a million Americans a year and kills 14,000. Up until now, the most effective method for treating C. difficile has been a fecal transplant, that thing where they literally transplant someone else's poop into the patient's body. This can be done by a tube down the throat, a tube up the nose or, less ideally, an enema. No matter how it's delivered, though, consuming someone else's poop is pretty gross.
That in mind, Dr. Thomas Louie from the University of Calgary had the ingenious idea to take all of the helpful bacteria out of the poop and put it in a pill. The sample stool is usually taken from a relative, broken down, cleaned up and put into a capsule that stays intact until it hits the digestive tract. Since the treatment to kill C. difficile also kills a lot of the good bacteria in the digestive tract, the contents of the pill restores the gastrointestinal system to its old bacteria-filled self. "There's no stool left—just stool bugs," Louie told the AP. "These people are not eating poop." Yay!
One problem with the treatment in current form is that each pill has to be custom-made for each patient. Doctors are optimistic that they'll be able to find universal donors, though. Can you imagine that? In the future, instead of blood banks, we'll have poop banks. [CBS/AP]
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