Fecal matter transplants (FMT) might elicit a giggle from the uninitiated. But for many, these donations are life-changing, if not outright life-saving. A new study helps confirm that frozen fecal donations work as well as fresh ones, which could help make the treatments cheaper and more widely available. And that’s a good thing, because FMT – currently only FDA approved for treating one kind of bacterial infection – is being tested to fix everything from ulcers to obesity.
FMT is exactly what it sounds like: Fecal matter from a healthy donor is given to the patient, usually via enema or orally. For those suffering from chronic infections of the bacterium Clostridium difficile, these transplants can turn life-threatening diarrhea into healthy bowel movements.
When the bacteria from a healthy gut enter the sick patient, they can outcompete the dangerous microbes — even when antibiotics have failed to kill them before. Once the C. difficile is beaten down, normal gastrointestinal function can resume.