On Monday November 5, officials at the FDA listened for three hours to arguments for and against "fecal microbiota transplants" – mostly for. Speakers reported that the procedure has saved thousands of lives.
The technique of "FMT" is highly effective in treating infection with Clostridioides difficile ("C diff"). This infection is usually hospital-acquired, causes life-threatening diarrhea, and tends to recur. It is terrifying.
FMT introduces a healthy donor's gut microbiome (the population of microbes in the intestines) and is in clinical trials for a variety of ills. But microbiomes are highly individualized entities, and so variations on the fecal transplant theme, in terms of what's actually being delivered, haven't been well documented.
The FDA meeting came, coincidentally, just days after The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a report about two patients who'd contracted rare, antibiotic-resistant E. coli bloodstream infections from fecal transplants. One patient responded after he switched to the appropriate antibiotic; the other died of pneumonia and sepsis within days.
To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared.