Clostridium difficile (CDI) is a type of bacterial infection causing serious and debilitating diarrhea. CDI infection is a growing problem in health care facilities, killing up to 14,000 people a year in the United States alone.
An effective treatment for CDI is known as a “fecal transplant,” which is exactly what it sounds like. This kind of transplant uses the feces of a healthy person to replace the CDI bacteria with good “gut” bacteria. However, the transplant process is a little awkward, to say the least.
First, the process requires fresh, regular donation of feces. The feces then needs to be transplanted. Up until now, you had two options for how to deliver the feces: via a colonoscopy or through a tube down your throat. Neither options sound pleasant, but a third option recently came into play.
Enter the frozen poop pill. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that they could deliver the fecal transplant with the same level of effectiveness using pills instead of something more extreme. The feces is taken from healthy donors, put in pill form, and kept frozen.
Patients going through the treatment take a total of 15 pills a day for two days. Using pills is far less invasive that the alternatives, even if it is a little gross. Here is a picture of the culprit, Clostridium difficile colitis.
The only drawback of the pills is their clear shell, so you can see what’s in them. This is because the pills need to be able to withstand the stomach acids and reach the large intestines. Acid resistant capsules only come in clear colors.
While it may seem pretty gross, this treatment is revolutionary and could potentially save thousands of lives every year.
I’m not sure whether to be grossed out or be in awe of science. I guess I’ll be amazed, but it’s also pretty gross. Still, this treatment might save my life someday.