'Fake stool' a possible aid for C. diff patients

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A pair of Clostridium difficile patients were cured through introduction of a super-probiotic synthetic stool called RePOOPulate, leading researchers to express hope that the treatment can be adopted on a more widespread basis.

Emma Allan-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph, developed RePOOPulate to address issues with stool transplants that use human fecal matter. While this treatment has been effective in resolving cases of C. diff, there is a chance that the feces used in the transplant contains pathogens that would infect the patient. Using synthetic stool, therefore, improves safety and could also reduce psychological barriers that patients have with regard to transplants of actual human fecal matter, researchers say.

The two initial patients to be treated with the synthetic stool were symptom-free within three days, according to scientists. The microbes introduced by the synthetic stool also appeared to permanently colonize in their colons, unlike most probiotics, holding out the promise of long-term stabilization.

C. diff outbreaks in the long-term care setting can be extremely challenging to control, in part because recurrence is common. This can potentially be reduced if care providers are more diligent about not overprescribing antibiotics to C. diff patients, according researchers writing in the February issue of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

C. diff is often caused when antibiotics kill certain gut bacteria, allowing the Clostridium difficile bacteria to overpopulate the colon.

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