Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Medicine’s dirty secret

A blender containing blended poo 

Bryn Nelson gets to the bottom of an emerging – and often shocking – therapy.

This is how far a mother will go.

Your daughter has been sick for more than four years with a severe autoimmune disease that has left her colon raw with bloody ulcers. After multiple doctors and drugs have failed, you are frantic for her to get better. Then you send her disease into remission, virtually overnight, with a single act of love. “Who wouldn’t do that for their daughter?” you say. It’s like a miracle, you say. “An overnight magic wand.”

You’ve agreed to do it again – twice – for strangers. You’ve seen first-hand how effective it can be and you felt so badly for the patients and their families. Had you donated blood or plasma, no one would blink. But this? You can’t tell anyone else about this because of how they might react.

There are more like you, men and women who have given their loved ones a remarkable reprieve from a group of chronic conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease. There are many more who have cured patients of a potentially fatal bacterium known as Clostridium difficile. This microbe can persist in a cocoon-like spore for up to five months, impervious to nearly everything except bleach. It is fast becoming resistant to every antibiotic thrown at it.

You insist on “Marion” as a pseudonym. You say of your daughter’s therapy: “I don’t talk with anybody about it. I’ve told people that we replaced her…” and you pause, “unhealthy bacteria with healthy bacteria. I didn’t go into specifics.”

Here are the specifics: you were the donor in a faecal microbiota transplant. You gave your daughter your poo.

For the rest of the story: http://mosaicscience.com/story/medicine%E2%80%99s-dirty-secret

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