Fecal bacteriotherapy (‘stool transplant’) can be effective in treating recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, but concerns of donor infection transmission and patient acceptance limit its use. Here we describe the use of a stool substitute preparation, made from purified intestinal bacterial cultures derived from a single healthy donor, to treat recurrent C. difficile infection that had failed repeated standard antibiotics. Thirty-three isolates were recovered from a healthy donor stool sample. Two patients who had failed at least three courses of metronidazole or vancomycin underwent colonoscopy and the mixture was infused throughout the right and mid colon. Pre-treatment and post-treatment stool samples were analyzed by 16 S rRNA gene sequencing using the Ion Torrent platform.
Both patients were infected with the hyper virulent C. difficile strain, ribotype 078. Following stool substitute treatment, each patient reverted to their normal bowel pattern within 2 to 3 days and remained symptom-free at 6 months. The analysis demonstrated that rRNA sequences found in the stool substitute were rare in the pre-treatment stool samples but constituted over 25% of the sequences up to 6 months after treatment.
This proof-of-principle study demonstrates that a stool substitute mixture comprising a multi-species community of bacteria is capable of curing antibiotic-resistant C. difficile colitis. This benefit correlates with major changes in stool microbial profile and these changes reflect isolates from the synthetic mixture.
It worked. This seems important: C. difficile infection is quite common in hospitalized patients, and fecal transplants have been successful. But, they must be treated like any other transplant in that the donor must be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and others. With this synthetic transplant, doctors could have an off-the-shelf treatment available whenever needed. Costs could drop significantly.