Current Uses For FMT
Recently featured in our January article, fecal microbiota transplantation; when a stool is taken from a healthy donor and is then placed into the sick patient in order to receive the beneficial bacteria; is currently being utilized to treat a condition called Clostridium Difficile. C difficile is a bacterium that causes debilitating inflammation of the colon and leads to chronic diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, and dehydration. C. difficile takes an estimated 30,000 Americans every year, and unfortunately this infection can come back even after one treats it “successfully”.
Even though antibiotics cause the disease, the cure for C. difficile is more antibiotics; but this does not always work, since for some people the problem returns after every course they receive of the drugs. However, there is hope as FMT is now steadily becoming more recognized as a safe, effective treatment for C. difficile. In 2013, the first randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 94% of patients were cured by the FMT, whereas a course of antibiotics cured only just 27% of the patients. Currently FMT is only approved for the treatment of C. difficile infection by the FDA, and it is still considered to be an experimental therapy.
Even though information exists out there about FMT curing individuals suffering from IBD, Crohn’s, autism, colitis, as well as other ailments, doctors are not allowed to perform the procedure unless they are doing so within the supervision of an approved research trial. In order for the FDA to approve a treatment, it must be proven as both safe and effective; according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, until more is known about whether or not FMT can help these disorders, FMT should only be tried as part of a clinical trial. Due to the many variables affecting these disorders, there are still a lot of unknowns. For instance, the October 2013 issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology highlighted the fact that researchers are not able to calculate how long healthy bacteria will successfully stay in an ulcerative colitis patient. In addition, doses are still not currently well-known for IBD treatment; with C. difficile, one or two treatments are enough to cure the infection, while the amount needed to control IBD is still up in the air. FMT’s impact on IBD is unpredictable, and can vary from patient to patient; just like the disease. However, there is a large amount of clinical studies now underway that is researching FMT in the treatment of other gastrointestinal diseases.
If you live in the NYC metro area, are suffering from Clostridium Difficile and are interested in fecal microbiota transplantation, click here for more information.
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