How your poop could save a life

Our elevator pitch is certainly one that people don’t tend to forget in a hurry. As soon as we mention that our organisation aims to facilitate a medical treatment that involves the transfer of poop from one person to another, we are normally met with a sea of cringing faces and laughter. But Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) is no joke.

What exactly is FMT?

FMT is a medical treatment that involves the installation of faeces from a healthy person into another person, with a view of curing a certain disease that the recipient is suffering from.

  • ‘Microbiota’ refers to the community of microorganisms that inhabit a particular region of the human body.
  • ‘Faecal’ refers to the source of the microbiota (faeces in the gut/bowel)
  • ‘Transplantation’ refers to the transfer of healthy and safe microbiota from a donor’s faeces to a patient. This occurs via a nasogastric tube, nasoduodenal tube, rectal enema or via the biopsy channel of a colonoscope.
Image source: Dr Simon Goldenberg http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/10-cdi-practical-aspects-faecal-microbiota-transplant.pdf

Introducing Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a rod shaped bacterium that can be found in people’s intestines. Its presence alone does not cause disease, and can be found in around 3% of the healthy adult population [1].

C.diff only causes disease when there is an imbalance between other organisms in the intestines and C.diff. This usually happens by someone taking antibiotics, which allow C.diff to grow to unusually high levels.

C.diff is one of the most common healthcare acquired infections in the UK, with around 15,000 reported cases annually [2]. C.diff produces toxins that cause an inflammatory reaction in the bowel, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and nausea. In severe cases, C.diff can be a cause of death.

The infection is usually treated with antibiotics, however, around 1 in 4 patients relapse after treatment, and some people experience recurrent C.diff infections. This results in lengthy hospital visits and reduced quality of life.

FMT as a treatment for C.diff

FMT is widely regarded to be the most effective treatment for C.diff infection that does not respond to antibiotics.

A systematic review of 25 studies investigating the efficacy of FMT for treatment of recurrent C.diff infection reported complete resolution of symptoms in 91% of patients at a mean follow-up of 12.6 months [3].

Here is a quote from the NHS
While this may sound unpleasant, the treatment does have very good results, with a success rate of more than 90%, and is probably the best treatment currently available. However, access to this type of treatment may be limited.

Our Mission

Our mission is to fully supply the needs of all hospitals and clinical units with safe and effective Faecal Transplant preparations for Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) and other related services. Our model is a scalable social innovation that will improve and save lives.

Spread the word, your poop could save a life.

[1] HPA C.diff Fact Sheet https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/339322/Clostridium_difficile_fact_sheet.pdf

[2] NHS.UK, (2015). http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Clostridium-difficile/Pages/Introduction.aspxClostridium difficile NHS Choices. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jul. 2015].

[3] Nice.org.uk, (2014). Faecal microbiota transplant for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection | 4-Efficacy | Guidance and guidelines | NICE. [online] Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ipg485/chapter/4-Efficacy [Accessed 1 Aug. 2015].

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