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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Poop pills offer a cure for a potentially deadly infection

Dr. Thomas Louie  has come up with an innovative method of treating Clostridium difficile infection (KENNETH HO / THE STATESMAN)

A new, unusual method of treating Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection was developed by University of Calgary professor Dr. Thomas Louie, who teaches microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, C. diff infection is caused by a germ that affects people with weak immune systems or those who had “good” digestive bacteria that were killed by antibiotics. The C. diff germ grows in the intestines and causes diarrhea.

When antibiotics to treat C. diff are ineffective and the infection returns, patients may be directed to try non-standard treatments. One of those methods is a transplant of fecal matter from a close family member that has healthy bacteria.

Louie adapted that method—now patients can receive treatment in the form of capsules, being widely referred to as “poop pills.” In reality, according to Louie, the pills are made by processing healthy feces until it contains “only bacteria,” then concentrated inside three layers of gelatin capsule, allowing the pills to travel past the stomach into the small intestine.

Louie sees this as an advantage as the method “does not involve invasive and more costly procedures, and is more comfortable for patients.”

The University of Calgary reported that the treatment was 100 percent successful in preventing the recurrence of C.diff infection in each of their 27 patients.

The idea of “poop pills” might seem outrageous or comical, but it is a development in eliminating an infection that, in serious cases, can lead to death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, C. diff infection is “linked to 14,000 American deaths each year.”

Newsday reported that Simons Chair of Medicine Dr. Vincent Yang, who specializes in internal medicine, said that Stony Brook will definitely consider the pills and believes there is “a lot potential in this method to treat C. diff.”

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