Fecal microbiota transplants successfully treat patients with C. difficile infection

University of Birmingham | 03-15-2020
Scanning electron micrograph of Clostridium difficile bacteria from a stool sample. Credit: Public Domain – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new study from the University of Birmingham has shown that fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) are highly successful in treating patients with Clostridioides difficile (C.diff) infection.

Published in EClinicalMedicine, results from the first licensed English stool bank, which supplies FMT treatment to patients in the NHS, have shown that in 78% of cases the patient’s diarrhea had stopped and had not returned in the 90 days after treatment.

Antibiotics can be effective in treating the first episode of C.diff. However, 10-20% of patients don’t respond and the infection then recurs. Success rates of antibiotics in relapsing infection can be as low as 30%.

C.diff infections result from the good gut bacteria being killed by antibiotics given for other infections and cause severe diarrhea, abdominal pain and may be fatal in elderly patients.

During FMT, the good bacteria in the feces of a healthy donor are transferred to the gut of a patient with the infection.

The Microbiome Treatment Centre at the University of Birmingham is the first in the UK to be licensed for FMT preparation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), supplying NHS patients across the country.

Before the dedicated center was set up, many patients across the UK were unable to access this treatment.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that FMT treatment is better than treatment with special expensive antibiotics for C.diff infections, particularly when the patient’s infection has come back again.

The development of a licensed FMT service at the University of Birmingham will widen the supply and improve equality of access to FMT treatment across the NHS. It will provide critical support for researchers both here in Birmingham and in other centers working on how FMT produces a cure not only in C.diff infection but also conditions such as ulcerative colitis and other diseases that seem to be linked to the gut microbiome.

Lead author Dr. Victoria McCune, Consultant Clinical Scientist in Microbiology at South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Our research has successfully shown the benefits of treating recurrent C.diff patients with FMT. Our standardized approach to making FMT will improve the quality and safety of this treatment for many more patients.”

Professor Peter Hawkey, Professor of Clinical and Public Health Bacteriology at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection, said:

“This work has turned an unregulated potentially dangerous method of fecal transplantation into a national service providing rapid, safe regulated, life-saving treatment for a serious disease affecting thousands of patients in the UK.”


Materials provided by the University of Birmingham.  Content may be edited for clarity, style, and length.


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