Fecal transplant no more effective than standard C. diff treatment: Study

Study finds single fecal transplant is no more effective at treating C. diff as traditional treatment.
By Amy Wallace  |  Jan. 4, 2017 at 11:28 AM
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TORONTO, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University Health Network have determined that a single fecal transplant, or FT, is no more effective at treating recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, or RCDI, than traditional treatment.

The study found that a single fecal transplantation via enema is no more effective at treating RCDI than the standard treatment method of administering oral vancomycin taper.

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium that causes gastrointestinal symptoms including mild to severe diarrhea.

Many C. diff infections happen in patients taking antibiotics, which can destroy normal bacteria found in the intestines, allowing the infection to multiply and damage the intestines.

FT is the process of transplanting fecal bacteria from a healthy donor into a patient with RCDI to restore the gut's microbiota by introducing healthy microorganisms through stool infusion. FT is an increasingly popular treatment for RCDI.

The University Health Network team measured the actual effectiveness of FT on RCDI using an open-label trial where study participants experiencing an acute episode of RCDI received either 14 days of oral vancomycin therapy followed by a single fecal transplant of donor stool, or a six-week taper of oral vancomycin only.

The team ended the study after examining just 30 patients because they found no significant difference between the two treatments.

"These findings are quite interesting and show that we have a lot to do to learn as to how well fecal transplantation works compared to the standard of care before it becomes a mainstream treatment," Dr. Susy Hota, medical director, Infection Prevention and Control Program at the University Health Network, said in a press release. "More research is needed into the many factors that influence the effectiveness of FT, such as donor and patient selection, FT manufacturing, how it is delivered to the patient, the number of times FT needs to be given, and any other variables that could improve outcomes."

The study was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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