News / Health

    Inflammatory Bowel Disease 'Cured' With Fecal Transplant

    FILE -Technical assistant Eliska Didyk prepares a human fecal matter solution in an OpenBiome laboratory, in Medford, Massachusetts, June 2014.
    FILE -Technical assistant Eliska Didyk prepares a human fecal matter solution in an OpenBiome laboratory, in Medford, Massachusetts, June 2014.
    Jessica Berman

    Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are extremely painful and can lead to colorectal cancer. Now, researchers have effectively cured the conditions in mice, offering hope for human sufferers of so-called IBDs.

    Waste material from healthy people is rich in helpful bacteria. When transferred to the digestive tracts of sick individuals, in whom there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria, the fecal matter helps restore the balance of healthy flora.  

    Some cutting-edge doctors have used so-called fecal transplants to treat severe bacterial infections, including Clostridium difficile or C. diff, which releases toxins as it grows, attacking the lining of the intestines.  

    Scientists also have found the transplants appear to reverse autoimmune diseases of the bowel.

    Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, are life-long disorders that cause severe diarrhea, painful cramps and bleeding.

    According to June Round, a professor of medicine at the University of Utah, such diseases are becoming increasingly common around the world, as more and more people eat a low-fiber, high-fat Western diet.

    Round also blames the widespread use of antibiotics.

    “So, I think a lot about the microbes that naturally reside in our bodies. And antibiotics can not distinguish between what is good and what is bad," she said. "They kind of wipe-out everything. So, there is a very clear-cut correlation between when Western civilization started using the antibiotics and the increased incidence of a lot of these autoimmune diseases.”

    Currently, treatments for these conditions are supportive, designed only to ease the symptoms. So, the idea of a potential cure for IBD is very appealing.

    In experiments with mice with inflammatory bowel disease, Round and her team found that fecal transplant restored the healthy balance of intestinal flora, returning the intestine to near normal.

    But the notion of transferring fecal material from one person to another -- and in the case of mice, through a tube into the stomach -- makes many people say "yuck." So Round said researchers are now trying to identify the helpful bacteria in human waste so they can be put into pill form.

    “You know, right now we have to do fecal transplantation because the [bacterial] communities are so complex, and we just do not know what organisms are doing the good thing," she said. "So, we just kind of put it all in there and hope for the best. So, there is no way of getting around it right now, but hopefully in the future there will be.”

    The work is published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Melissa
    January 30, 2015 8:54 PM
    I have Crohn's and had a fecal transplant for a recurrent case of c-diff a few years ago. it cured the c-diff but unfortunately didn't cure my Crohn's.

    by: scott from: fort mcmurray alberta
    January 29, 2015 6:37 PM
    Is there some sort of test group for this , my crohns is not bad but ive had surgeries to get to were i am if this procedure can cure crohns then im in . This is a far better solution than having more of my intestines taken out and hoping it doesnt come back when it always does

    by: kristen from: SC
    January 29, 2015 2:28 PM
    Oh that's all we have to do to get cured? Please if that's the solution, explain how one child out of 5 siblings who eat exactly the same way could develop the disease while the others remain "healthy". Do your research and quit assuming that it's brought on by diet. It's unfortunate you and others don't properly understand IBD and think you have figured it out for all the many scientists who are working on this. Think before one talks!

    by: real info from: oregon
    January 25, 2015 2:18 AM
    Why is that healthy person healthy and therefore has healthy bacterial content in bowels? Stop eating GMO food which can produce pesticides in your gut. Stop eating non organics covered in toxic pesticides. Stop eating processed food laid with other toxic chemicals. Filter the chlorine and other chemicals out of your city water. Then you will have your own batch of healthy poop instead of taking on a poop transplant from someone who already does those things. Even if that did balance your gut temporarily, the issues would come back over time if you keep consuming poison.
    In Response

    by: Natty
    January 29, 2015 10:03 AM
    I can't believe you are saying this about people with IBD. my daughter was only two when she was diagnosed. Never ate a fast food meal in her life! Ate only organic foods. You have no idea what you are saying.
    In Response

    by: crohnssufferer from: arizona
    January 29, 2015 9:48 AM
    You are making a very under educated assumption crohns and other ibd's are not always the fault of the victim. I for one only eat organic vegetables and avoid fast food. I exercise amongst a host of other things, so dont total sum us in the ignorance you call your opinion.
    In Response

    by: kay from: oregon
    January 29, 2015 9:42 AM
    A healthy person does not have the disease thats why their fecal matter is healthy. It has nothing to do with GMO's or pestesides. Many IBD patients cannot even consume raw veggies and fruits. Many are already on a very restricted diet. Please do your research before you assume people with these diseases are doing it to themselves. It is an autoimmune disease that is caused by bacterial imbalances, not by too many cheeseburgers.

    by: Michael Hurst from: Washington, DC
    January 23, 2015 4:35 PM
    I successfully used fecal transplants to cure my case of Ulcerative Colitis back in 2011 after having the illness for 12 years. I found an article in the Journal of Gastroenterology just a few days before I was scheduled to have surgery to remove my colon. This definitely can work and the number of documented cases continues to grow!

    by: Timothy Johnson, PhD from: Indiana
    January 23, 2015 1:33 PM
    Transferring gastric contents from one person to another is a really innovative and productive means for treating colitis! I would volunteer if I had this painful disease.
    In Response

    by: Dean from: UK
    January 29, 2015 1:36 PM
    I have ulcerative colitis and live in the UK and American health care is much more advanced. Therefore, it will take time for this to reach here; although, I would volunteer for this as this disease is life changing qnd affects my everyday life.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora