It’s good to see researchers taking on the overwhelming complexity of the gut biome. At the VA, Dr. Dale Gerding has identified a specific bacteria that can be used to fight one that is often deadly. From NPR:
“The key thing here is being able to use a spore-forming bacteria,” says Dr. Dale Gerding, a researcher at the Veterans Administration who has spent his career trying to come up with effective treatments for C. difficile. Not only are spores a lot easier to manage, they survive the trip through stomach acid to the gut where C. difficule wreaks its havoc, causing debilitating diarrhea and nausea.
Spore treatment in hand, Gerding and colleagues tested it in 157 people who had recently had a bout of C. difficile. Half of them took the spores in a water solution, and the other half took a watery placebo. Eleven percent of people given spores became reinfected with C. difficile, compared to 30 percent of the people on placebo. Sixty percent of the placebo patients had at least one more bout of diarrhea, compared to 46 percent of spore-takers.
Of course, the less specific method can work also:
Last fall we reported on efforts at Massachusetts General Hospital to test the poop pill concept. They filled capsules with fecal contributions from healthy volunteers and gave them to 20 people with recurring C. diff infections. The pills worked immediately for 14 of the patients. Four more got relief by taking another two-day course of the pills.
But obviously, no one can make much money on a poop pill.