Guelph prof has promising cure for C. difficile

A recent study done by the University of Guelph has generated a synthetic poop to cure toxin-producing bacteria caused by Clostridium difficile.

Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) is a bacterial disease that causes severe diarrhea and intestinal problems such as inflammation of the colon.

C.difficile persists because long term use of antibiotics has wiped out the good microbes in the gut that make digestion possible, said Emma Allen-Vercoe, the University of Guelph professor who developed the probiotic cure.

“Patients have exposure to an antibiotic for an unrelated thing; maybe an antibiotic after surgery,” Allen-Vercoe said. “ It ends up killing the good microbes in the gut. When C. difficile gets in there, it’s like a weed and begins to take over.”

“When it gets to high enough numbers it then starts to release toxins that can damage the lining of the gut.”

“RePOOPulate” is a fecal transplant made from artificial stool made inside purified intestinal bacterial cultures grown inside a ‘Robo-gut’ in a Guelph laboratory. The find will also eliminate the risk of transmitting infectious diseases and it can be modified to suit individual patient needs.

C. difficile in Canada is one of the most frequent causes of infectious diarrhea in long-term care facilities and hospitals. Last year there was an outbreak in Ontario that had 21 cases of C.difficile resulting in deaths.

“What we’re trying to do instead is get rid of that dysfunctional ecosystem by displacing it with another that is functional and healthy.”

“If we have an ecosystem that is disturbed, the best way to treat it is not with more antibiotics, like it’s traditionally done,” Allen-Vercoe said. “What we’re trying to do instead is get rid of that dysfunctional ecosystem by displacing it with another that is functional and healthy.”

“We made repopulate bearing in mind what you would see in a normal gut-ecosystem. Applying this ‘Band-Aid’ of good microbes can allow the patient’s ecosystem to come back and flourish again,” said Allen-Vercoe.

The project started in January 2011 and has been tested on two people with excellent results.

Researchers hope that doctors will use the RePOOPulate concept to help treat obesity and inflammatory bowl disease by replacing abnormal microbial ecosystems that can cause these health issues such as IBS, autism and colitis.

The next step in the study is to get it cleared by Health Canada and make the treatment available in pill form.

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