Weird Medicine

Scientists Seek 'Super Donor' To Give Poop To People With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Scientists are looking for a specific group of people to share their poop. Sounds weird but a new study found fecal transplants can be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome but only when samples come from “super donors.”

Researchers believe that problems in the microbiome, or microorganisms in the gut, contribute to irritable bowel syndrome. This sparked their interest in exploring the effects of fecal transplants to treat the condition. 

A team of researchers from Norway tested the approach with 164 patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. The participants were divided into groups based on their symptoms. 

They received processed poop from a so-called super donor by inserting a tube into the mouth, down the throat and small intestine.

The researchers observed the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome more than a year. In the first three months after the fecal transplant, 76.9 percent of participants who received lower dose of super donor feces reported a moderate response, while positive effects were reported by 89.1 percent of the higher dose group.

Majority of the participants also reported their symptoms went away entirely following the treatment. One year later, the researchers found the effects of fecal transplants remained. 

“The preliminary results [suggest] most, 90 to 95 percent, of the responded patients are still well and about 50 percent are still ‘cured,’” Magdy El-Salhy, lead researcher and a professor at the University of Bergen in Norway, told NBC News. He said having the microbiota of super donors significantly contributed to the effectiveness of the irritable bowel syndrome treatment. 

The super donors commonly have a healthy diet, are nonsmokers, took no regular medications, were breastfed and have low intake of antibiotics. 

However, some experts raised concerns that it could be difficult to find super donors to maintain the treatment. With the changing lifestyle of people, there could be challenges to secure “healthy” fecal transplants. 

“These are very promising results that will certainly generate a lot of interest and attention because there is a great interest in these kinds of therapeutics for IBS,” Alexander Khoruts, a professor of medicine and medical director of the Microbiota Therapeutics Program at the University of Minnesota, said “But it’s not clear how you could find another ‘super donor’ to reproduce these results.”

street workout Scientists are looking for "super donors" with healthy diet and lifestyle to donate poop for transplants. Pixabay