C. diff bacteria
BOSTON, MA – For the approximately 500,000 people suffering from the bacterial disease, Clostridium difficile or C. diff, relief may have been developed in the form of a “brownish-colored capsule,” according to NPR.
The new pill is frozen fecal matter.
To understand this concept, the nature of C. diff needs to be examined. C. diff is an aggressive bacteria that is responsible for killing 14,000-30,000 people each year. Taking root in the digestive tract, it causes diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, and abdominal pain, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The source of this problem actually stems from antibiotics. Commonly used to treat everyday sickness like ear infections, pink eye and strep throat, the primary purpose of these drugs is to bring people back to health. . Unfortunately, sometimes they do quite the opposite.
In a typical human digestive tract, there are over 1,000 microorganisms present, most of which are harmless, according to WebMD. However, after taking antibiotics, some people kill off too much of their healthy bacteria, and introduce an excess of malicious bacteria. The growing bacteria transforms into C. diff.
Here is where the pill comes in.
The new discovery claims, if healthy family members donate samples of their stool to be injected into the sick patient, it will cure the patient of C. diff. To put it simply, the bacteria from the healthy stool will replenish the missing healthy bacteria in the sick patient’s digestive tract.
Tested in the Massachusetts General Hospital, 20 patients ages 11-84 were administered the doses of the poop pill, reports Huffington Post. Of the 20, 19 were completely cured after a few rounds of this treatment. That is a 90 percent success rate.
Professor of Medicine, Thomas Louie, studies this new pill at the University of Calgary, in Canada.
“One of my patients was a 6-year-old boy who had a heart transplant,” he tells USA Today, “The patient came in and had 12 pills in about three minutes, and that was the end of a C. diff for him.”
So while the pill is hard to swallow mentally, it is a huge advancement in the world of modern medicine.
Just like all new drugs, the pill may have some setbacks, but it is still too soon to tell. “There’s always the possibility that unknown infectious agents could be transmitted this way,” a Mass General Doctor tells NPR, “We screen these people to be as healthy as we can determine in 2014, but who knows?”
Phoebe Moore is a Junior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. Studying Writing and Rhetoric, she hopes to pursue some sort of writing career after graduation. Outside of the classroom she is a member of the cross country team and athletic leadership core.