A synthetic "poop" developed at the University of Guelph can cure nasty gastrointestinal infections caused by Clostridium difficile, a toxin-producing bacterium.
A study on the artificial stool was published today in the inaugural issue of Microbiome, a new peer-reviewed science journal.
The stool – a "super-probiotic" called RePOOPulate – was created by Guelph microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe to replace human fecal matter used in stool transplants, a known treatment for C. difficile.
She made the super-probiotic from purified intestinal bacterial cultures grown in "Robo-gut" equipment in a Guelph laboratory that mimics the environment of the large intestine.
Besides offering an effective therapy against the deadly superbug, the artificial poop is safer, more stable and adaptable, and less "icky" than treatments for C. difficile infection such as fecal bacteriotherapy, the study said.
"It's an exciting finding," said Allen-Vercoe, a professor in Guelph's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
She worked on the project with lead researchers Dr. Elaine Petrof, an infectious disease specialist at Kingston General Hospital and a professor at Queen's University, and Gregory Gloor, a biochemistry professor at the University of Western Ontario. Guelph pathobiology professor Scott Weese and researcher Michelle Daigneault were also involved.
C. difficile can overpopulate the colon when antibiotics kill healthy gut bacteria. C. difficile infection causes many gastrointestinal problems, including severe diarrhea, and often leads to outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Few treatments exist for people with recurring C. difficile infections. Stool transplants are among the more effective therapies, but human fecal matter may contain unknown pathogens, Allen-Vercoe said. "That puts people at risk for future disease."
Stool transplants are also limited by lack of acceptance among patients and health-care facilities and lack of standardized treatment regimens.
Using synthetic poop for transplants eliminates the risk of transmitting an infectious disease through fecal bacteria because "the exact composition of the bacteria administered is known and can be controlled," Allen-Vercoe said.
The method may be modified to suit individual patient needs, is easily reproduced, and is more appealing to many patients and physicians, she said.
The researchers tested RePOOPulate on two patients with chronic C. difficile infections who had previously failed to respond to several rounds of antibiotics. After treatment with the synthetic poop, both were symptom-free within three days and tested negative for C. difficile six months later.
As well, later microbial profiles of both patients showed that some features of the synthetic stool stabilized in their colons. "In other words, the introduced microbes were able to persist," Allen-Vercoe said. "This is important because most commercially available probiotics only colonize transiently."
Allen-Vercoe hopes doctors will one day use the RePOOPulate concept to treat other GI conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and even autism by replacing abnormal gut microbial ecosystems.
University of Guelph: http://www.uoguelph.ca
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Free-living songbirds show increased stress hormone levels when nesting under white street lights. But different light spectra may have different physiological effects as this study finds, suggesting that using street lights with specific colour spectra may mitigate effects of light pollution on wildlife
Scientists identify the condition aphantasia, in which people cannot create images in their head
The dust in our homes contains an average of 9,000 different types of fungi and bacteria, a study suggests.
A mosquito can bear up to 23 times its total body weight on each leg, which is crucial for landing on water – the insect's secret is way it stands
Tropical species with smaller geographical ranges are more likely to die out in a warming climate than those that can adapt by ‘invading’ new regions
Most people think of bacteria as germs, signs of filth, or unwanted bringers of disease. Slowly, that view …
The gloomy octopuses crowded at Jervis Bay, Australia, appear to spit and throw debris such as shell at each other in what could be an intentional use of weapons
Therapies based on hormones that make us more trusting enhance our natural placebo effect – a finding that could alter the way clinical trials are conducted
The blind, hairless babies born recently at Washington D.C.'s National Zoo are completely dependent on their mothers—who can sometimes accidentally crush them.
The poop-hoarding insects have an amazingly advanced internal GPS that allows them to navigate by day or night.