HEALTH -- October 3, 2013 at 11:27 AM ET
'Poop pills' may be key to curing gut infections
The headline may have made you gag, but the unappetizing product may be a practical solution to a serious medical problem. Doctors have discovered a way to take the stool of healthy people and put them into pills that can cure gut infections by fixing a bacterial imbalance in somebody. The method would be an alternative to fecal transplants.
Bacteria was extracted from donor stool by Canadian researchers, who put it in capsules and gave it to 27 patients with severe intestinal infections who failed to get better after ingesting strong antibiotics. After taking the pills, all patients were cured.
The treatment was devised by Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary.
"The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel -- no one else has done this," said Dr. Curtis Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who has performed fecal transplants through colonoscopies. "I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians."
Half a million Americans are reported to get serious gut infections each year.