First poo transplant approved in Australia
It ’ s a boost for microbiome-based medicine
The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia has recently greenlighted stool transplantation for the treatment of recurring Clostridioides difficile ( C . diff .) infection in a global first that may provide a boost for similar clinical applications .
C . diff . often develops in patients taking antibiotics as they deplete the healthy bacteria in the microbiome , thus clearing the way for the pathogen to infect the colon and causing diarrhoea or even life-threatening consequences . It often spreads among hospitalised patients and tends to recur .
The new procedure involves the insertion of healthy bacteria from a donor ’ s faeces into the patient ’ s gut through the anus or nose in order to restore their microbiome . These are the different species of tiny organisms including bacteria , viruses , and fungi that contribute to normal bodily processes by digesting vital nutrients , producing important chemicals like vitamins , and stimulating the immune system . Though this therapeutic approach is already in use in several countries , the recent approval of a specific product will lead to “ essentially a pharmaceutical standard ,” said Sam Costello , the managing director of BiomeBank that marketed the approach , to the Guardian .
“ We ’ re the first to meet that standard ,” he said , adding that the “ approval should give doctors confidence to prescribe this therapy .”
“ Faecal microbial transplant is in some cases a frontline therapy for these patients because we are basically transplanting somebody else ’ s healthy microbiome with all the components that have been decimated [ in the patient ’ s gut ],” Dr Eugene Chang a microbiome researcher at the University of Chicago , told Global Health Asia-Pacific , adding that “ a healthy microbiome is a deterrent for pathogens like C . diff . because good microbes form communities that prevent these pathogens from developing .”
Costello said greenlighting a C . diff . transplant would facilitate the approval of microbiome therapies for other conditions .
“ This approval is a landmark for BiomeBank and an important advance for microbiome therapeutics globally . We are thrilled to achieve market authorisation and intend to scale manufacturing of our donor derived microbiome drug product to meet the immediate medical need . In addition , we are excited to progress the development of our cultured microbiome based therapies with the aim of alleviating microbiome mediated disease on a much larger scale ,” he said in a press release .
Some animal studies have shown that alterations to the gut microbiome can increase the risk or accelerate the development of many widespread and debilitating conditions including fatty liver disease , diabetes , cancer , and Alzheimer ’ s . However , there are still a lot of unanswered questions around what specific components in the microbiome are associated with diseases , making it challenging to develop therapies that treat specific conditions by improving the health of the microbiome .
Many companies are currently researching microbiome therapies for a variety of conditions , such as inflammatory bowel disease and food allergy , or to prevent complications following stem cell transplantation , a procedure that can lead to infections or the donated cells attacking the body .
The new procedure involves the insertion of healthy bacteria from a donor ’ s faeces into the patient ’ s gut through the anus or nose in order to restore their microbiome .
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