Utilizing Fecal Microbiota Treatment Modalities for C. difficile Treatment
An infection with Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, is an unpleasant matter resulting in severe diarrhea and ultimately dehydration with its sequelae of electrolyte imbalances that has profound impacts on the heart and the nervous system. Most cases occur in hospitals, though it has been known to occur in the community within people who are typically immunocompromised.
A powerful new C. difficile treatment method has been pioneered by the University of Alberta, Canada, in which capsules containing bacteria from the fecal material of a healthy donor have been developed, intended for ingestion by a C. difficile patient, so as to help restore balance to the gut. The fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) procedure consists of feces from a healthy donor which have been filtered and processed until it contains only bacteria, and this filtered material is then encapsulated within a gel that breaks down easily in the recipient’s gut.
The human digestive and immune systems are host to literally hundreds of different kinds of gut bacteria, whose combined purpose is to assist with digestion and the body’s immune system. When someone becomes infected with any kind of harmful agent that requires the use of antibiotics, the normal healthy balance in the gut can be severely disrupted. This creates a window of opportunity for microorganisms such as Clostridium difficile to enter the picture and create havoc in the gut.
Patients who participated in the study declared that there was no unpleasant odor or taste associated with the capsules, because the transferred stool bacteria are encased in a gel included within the capsule. Not only are the capsules close to 100 percent effective, but they are far less invasive compared to a colonoscopy.
In addition to the less invasive nature of the treatment, the capsules are inexpensive, and does not involve any form of sedation for the person being treated. The capsules can also be administered in a doctor’s office, with no preparation necessary.
As a large percentage of people who have contracted C. difficile have been bothered by the recurrent nature of the disease, the recurrence factor seems to have been eliminated in participants who ingested FMT capsules as a form of C. difficile treatment. Once the gut of an FMT recipient has been restored to its normal healthy balance by the bacteria included in the capsules, recurrence is no longer an issue, and repeat treatments have not been necessary.
Many of the participants in the study experienced significant relief within just a few days of undergoing treatment. Since only a single treatment is needed to achieve success, with no ongoing treatments being necessary, there could hardly be a faster, more effective solution to the problem. To this point, no adverse reactions have been reported by patients and have been well tolerated thus far.
However, to achieve effective C. difficile treatment results, a fairly large number of capsules have to be ingested all within the space of an hour. In order for the desired effects to be achieved, it is necessary to deliver a high volume of healthy donor fecal material, and this must be accomplished by ingesting as many as 40 of the prepared capsules in a relatively short period of time—a small price to pay for relief.
Apart from transforming the way C. difficile treatments will be administered, it is expected that the capsule delivery method will entirely revolutionize the way FMT will be administered in the future, because of its ease of use, low cost, low impact on recipients, and extremely high rate of success.