Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) was first written about in 4’th century China, where it was being used to treat severe food poisoning and diarrhea. The more modern description of FMT was in 1958 when it was being used to treat pseudomembranous enterocolitis, which is a disease characterized by inflammation of the colon as a result of Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infection. This infection is a common cause of deadly diarrhea after antibiotic use, which according to the CDC kills ~30,000 patients per year. In the last 10 years, FMT has gained a lot of interest and acceptance in both the scientific and medical communities with demand for broader treatment access coming from the general population.
Practically speaking, FMT is an infusion in the colon, or the delivery through the upper gastrointestinal tract, of stool from a healthy donor to a recipient with a disease believed to be related to an unhealthy gut microbiome. FMT has been successfully used to treat recurrent C.diff infection with success rates above 90%. The success of FMT in C.diff has led to investigations of its application to other gastrointestinal disorders and extra-intestinal diseases with presumed gut dysbiosis, including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, autism, and many other conditions (1).
In large randomized studies and research reviews, it has been found that FMT for the treatment of C.diff is both safe and efficacious, with no reports of adverse events (2). The majority of risks associated with are minimized through stringent screening of the donor through a detailed medical history and regular blood and stool screening for any infectious diseases. To review our donor screening protocols and specific lab tests we run, you can read about that here.
It isn’t exactly clear how FMT works, although it is hypothesized that when there is a disturbance of the thousands of bacteria in the GI tract from antibiotics or other lifestyle or medical procedures, that the “good” bacteria are diminished which allows “bad” bacteria to grow and thrive and create dysbiosis. With a fecal transplant, the “good” bacteria from the donor’s stool are infused into the patient, allowing the healthy bacteria to grow and preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Depending on the condition being treated, most patients can begin to see benefits within a few days to weeks, with the benefits persisting over time.
Our focus at Novel Biome is in supporting autistic children who suffer from digestive symptoms and significant microbiome imbalance to restore their microbiome through FMT. You can learn more about our approach to treatment by going here.
Team Novel Biome