Science & Tech
Scientists make fake poop to treat C. difficile infection

Drugmakers racing to develop medicines and vaccines to combat a germ that ravages the gut and kills thousands have a new challenger: the human stool.

Credits: REUTERS/MIKE CASSESE

QMI AGENCY

Canadian scientists have developed a synthetic poop for treating C. difficile-related stomach infections.

The "super-probiotic" called RePOOPulate is meant to be used in place of actual human feces, a well-known therapy to combat severe diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems caused by C. difficile bacteria.

The fake feces was developed by University of Guelph microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe with researchers from Queen's University and Western University.

It addresses some of the issues associated with human stool transplant, namely that patients balk at it. Human stool can also contain unknown pathogens, whereas RePOOPulate is developed in a lab, where its exact composition can be controlled.

The synthetic poop was tested on two patients with chronic C. difficile infections that didn't respond to several rounds of antibiotics. They were free of symptoms within three days and tested negative for the bacterium six months later, the study found.

"The artificial poop is safer, more stable and adaptable, and less 'icky' than treatments for C. difficile infection such as fecal bacteriotherapy," according to the study, which was published Wednesday in the inaugural issue of the journal Microbiome.

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