Fecal microbiota transplants are gaining ground as a way to treat bowel infections, especially ones caused by Clostridium difficile, the Washington Post reports.
A handful of studies indicate that such transplants may be able to effectively treat C. difficile infections. For instance, the Post's Meeri Kim cites a 2011 Clinical Infectious Diseases paper that reported a 92 percent cure rate, though she notes that patients were also given antibiotics, and a presentation at a conference that reported 30 out of 31 cases that appeared to be cured through FMT in pill form.
"The 'ick' factor is only a factor for the people who don't need the transplant," Lawrence Brandt, a gastroenterologist from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a pioneer of FMT, tells Kim. "The ones that need it don't bat an eyelash when you tell them what you're going to do."
Kim notes that FMT has the potential to treat other conditions — Brandt has used it to treat people with irritable bowel syndrome — but that the US Food and Drug Administration requires an investigational new drug research permit for its use to treat conditions other than C. difficile infections.