Donate to the Igs

Pills from the elders, Sausages from the extremely young

Frozen Poop Pills Fight Life-Threatening Infections” is the headline on this report by Nancy Shute, for NPR’s Shots blog:

Fecal transplants can be life-saving for people with stubborn bacterial infections, but they’re not for the faint of heart. So doctors have come up with a way to make them more palatable – the frozen poop pill.

People infected with Clostridium difficile suffer debilitating diarrhea, but the bug often defies antibiotics. Doctors have recently discovered that a fecal transplant will restore good gut bacteria that banishes the C. diff. But the procedure is awkward, requiring a donation of fresh feces, usually from a relative, and a colonoscopy to deliver it.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital figured they could improve on that….

youngsterThe researchers published details in a small (involving 20 patients) study:

Oral, Capsulized, Frozen Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Relapsing Clostridium difficile Infection,” Ilan Youngster (pictured here), George H. Russell, Christina Pindar,  Tomer Ziv-Baran, Jenny Sauk,  Elizabeth L. Hohmann, Journal of the American Medical Association, epub October 11, 2014. They write:

“Objective To evaluate the safety and rate of resolution of diarrhea following administration of frozen FMT capsules from prescreened unrelated donors to patients with recurrent C difficile infection….

“Main Outcomes and Measures The primary end points were safety, assessed by adverse events of grade 2 or above, and clinical resolution of diarrhea with no relapse at 8 weeks. Secondary end points included improvement in subjective well-being per standardized questionnaires and daily number of bowel movements.”

Here’s further detail from the study:


The poop-pills research is not so distantly related to the work documented in the study honored with the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition. That prize was awarded to Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.” The study was published in the journal Food Microbiology (vol. 38, 2014, pp. 303-311).

(Thanks to investigator Emi Gennis for bringing this to our attention.)

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