While normal therapy is often insufficient to treat stubborn bowel disease, recent research found that a novel, ground-breaking method could completely cure 90% of patients.
Feces transplantation in the intestine is a very effective cure – far superior to today’s conventional treatment – for a potentially fatal infection that affects between 2,500 and 3,000 individuals in Denmark each year.
That is the finding of a recent study that was carried out by scientists from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital. Their findings were recently published in the journal The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.
In the study, the researchers explored the ground-breaking fecal transplantation treatment for patients infected with Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile), an infection that often strikes old or weak people.
According to Simon Mark Dahl Baunwall, a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Clinical Medicine and a doctor at the Aarhus University Hospital, the study’s findings are very encouraging.
“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,” he says.
A potentially fatal infection
Antibiotics are presently the standard treatment for C. difficile, but the infection is tenacious and may reoccur in many individuals.
Because the typical treatment methods are insufficient, the infection can be lethal in some cases.
Currently, only the most difficult cases with three or more infections have been identified are eligible for FMT treatment.
However, the study, which involved 42 patients, indicated that the new treatment could completely cure the large majority of patients.
“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,” explains Simon Mark Dahl Baunwall.
The study had to be stopped
FMT treatment is performed by transferring healthy donor feces, which contain a complete microbial intestinal ecosystem, to patients with disorders in their intestinal microbiota.
In the study, the effect of the treatment was so significant that the project had to be stopped for ethical reasons.
“In rare cases, it can happen that you discover that the treatment you are investigating is so effective that it is ethically indefensible to continue,” says Simon Mark Dahl 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.”
Huge potential for FMT treatment
Denmark is the country in Europe that is furthest advanced with the roll-out of the treatment to the patient group in question. However, a survey last year revealed that only 25 percent of the patients who could benefit from FMT treatment were offered it. In Europe as a whole, the figure is just one in ten.
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.
“At the moment, many studies of FMT treatment for various diseases are being carried out worldwide, with the most promising of these indicating beneficial effects in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and multi-resistant bacteria,” says Simon Mark Dahl Baunwall.
Reference: “Faecal microbiota transplantation for first or second Clostridioides difficile infection (EarlyFMT): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” by Simon Mark Dahl Baunwall, MD, Sara Ellegaard Andreasen, MD, Mette Mejlby Hansen, MSc, Jens Kelsen, Ph.D., Katrine Lundby Høyer, MD, Nina Rågård, BSc, Lotte Lindgreen Eriksen, MD, Sidsel Støy, Ph.D., Tone Rubak, MD, Prof Else Marie Skjøde Damsgaard, DMSc, Susan Mikkelsen, Ph.D., Prof Christian Erikstrup, Ph.D., Jens Frederik Dahlerup, DMSc and Christian Lodberg Hvas, Ph.D., 21 September 2022, The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
The study was funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark.
“… a novel, ground-breaking method …”
I’m not sure about the novelty, but I question the “ground-breaking” claim. A quick search of the internet provides several articles on the procedure, with at least one going back to 2019.
This isn’t groundbreaking at all.
I was hospitalized with a C.Diff infection in 2017 and was informed that if my antibiotic treatments did not work a FMT was a potential experimental option.
And half of the problem here is the use of antibiotics everywhere, especially in livestock that causes so many humans to develop resistance to their use – so farming methods need to be changed, or humans get away from meat eating in the first place. We are so surrounded by ‘clever’ science that we later learn is a problem, and yet nobody stops all this ‘innovation’ at the root. Every damned ‘food’ in the stores is full of foreign substances to our normal healthy biome that it becomes very difficult to eat wisely unless you grow it yourself & buy nothing at all in supermarkets ! I try, but it’s very hard.