Synthetic 'poop' cures nasty gastric infections

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Toronto, Jan 9 (IANS) A synthetic "poop" developed by researchers can cure nasty gastrointestinal infections caused by C. difficile, a toxin-producing bug.

The manmade stool - a "super-probiotic" called RePOOPulate - was created by Emma Allen-Vercoe, microbiologist at the University of Guelph, Canada, to replace human faecal matter used in stool transplants, a known treatment for C. difficile.

She made the super-probiotic from purified intestinal bacterial cultures grown in "Robo-gut" equipment in a Guelph lab that mimics the environment of the large intestine, the inaugural issue of Microbiome reports.

C. difficile can overpopulate the colon when antibiotics kill healthy gut bugs. The infection causes many gastro-intestinal problems, including severe diarrhoea, and often leads to outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care facilities, according to a Guelph statement.

Besides offering an effective therapy against the deadly superbug, the artificial poop is safer, more stable and adaptable, and less "icky" than treatments for C. difficile infection such as fecal bacteriotherapy, the study said.

"It's an exciting finding," said Allen-Vercoe, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Guelph.

She worked on the project with lead researchers Elaine Petrof, infectious disease specialist and professor at Queen's University, and Gregory Gloor, biochemistry professor at the University of Western Ontario. Guelph pathobiology professor Scott Weese and researcher Michelle Daigneault were also involved.

Few treatments exist for people with recurring C. difficile infections. Stool transplants are among the more effective therapies, but human faecal matter may contain unknown pathogens, Allen-Vercoe said. "That puts people at risk for future disease."

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