According to researchers from the University of Alberta, faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) pills are as effective as colonoscopy in treating Clostridium difficile infection.
The study, published on November 28, 2017, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, could revolutionise FMT usage.
Researchers conducted clinical trials on 116 patients suffering from recurring Clostridium difficile infection.
Half of the patients received faecal transplant through colonoscopy and the other half received it in the form of a pill that contained frozen stool from healthy donors.
The group taking the pill had to consume 40 pills in a single sitting lasting an hour.
After 12 weeks of treatment, about 95% of patients from both groups were free from infection.
The study reported that the pills saved time and reduced medical costs and were considered more ‘pleasant’ than colonoscopy-based FMT treatment.
The results indicate a promising future for FMT pills in the treatment of bowel infections.
Clostridium difficile bacteria disrupt normal gut bacteria, causing painful intestinal inflammation, severe diarrhea and kidney failure.
Antibiotics and colonoscopy-based FMT are the main treatments for Clostridium difficile infection.
However, antibiotics disrupt both the Clostridium difficile and normal gut bacteria, resulting in 10–30% of patients developing further recurring infections.
Colonoscopy-based FMT presents a more effective alternative, as less than 10% of patients receiving the treatment suffer recurring infections, but it is invasive and requires anesthesia, making the procedure risker for frail and older patients.
FMT pills could provide a less risky but equally effective treatment; however, further studies are required to confirm the results and better understand the mechanism of the faecal transplant process.