Gross, but Appears to Work

Researchers report on a successful fecal transplantation trial to treat Clostridium difficile infections.

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The indiscriminate use of

The indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections is rather akin to the use of chemotherapy drugs that target DNA synthesis or microtubule dynamics to treat cancer. One of the first casualties of such cancer treatments is the wiping out of the immune system, which provides the human body's best defence against the spread of cancer. In the case of general antibiotics, the destruction of the resident flora of bacteria in the average person, which can number in the trillions of bacteria, is the collateral damage that can make a bad situation even worse, especially if the culprit pathogenic bacteria is resistant to the antibiotic.

Some 5000 or more types of bacteria exist with a person's resident flora. They actually produce and secrete anti-bacterial peptides, as well as compete for space and nutrients with pathogenic bacteria, and this facilitates the establishment and maintenance of a healthy gut that protects the host. It seems that the multi-cultural" society of bacteria, technically outside the inside of our bodies, is amazingly harmonious in view of its diversity. Pathogenic bacteria that pose a threat to the resident flora are likely to be commonly and successfully kept in check by both the resident flora and the body's immune system.

The introduction of transplanted fecal material at the bottom end provides for restoration of the resident flora just as does the eating of probiotic yogurt at the front end. As a practice that can aid patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile infections, fecal transplantation might be the best strategy at this time. However, as with improved cancer therapy, it would be better to develop drugs that are actually more highly selective for Clostridium and other pathogenic bacteria. The growing availability of the genomes of these and other bacteria will surely aid such efforts.