- If you’re struggling with a potentially fatal sickness, wouldn’t you try a poop injection?
Your intestines are full of much more than just fecal matter. The human gut is a world of its own, full of beneficial microbes, microorganisms, and other tiny things.
And these microscopic fellows are vital to your well-being. If the delicate microbiome in your tubes goes off-balance, you’ll face any number of possibly debilitating or even life-threatening medical conditions.
But how do you return the balance to your internal wonderland? The answer will gross you out.
With somebody else’s feces.
We know, it sounds disgusting, but doctors have long claimed fecal implants are an effective method for curing microbiome imbalances. And now, we have official validation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a microbial fecal implant treatment for the first time. Based on human poop, Rebyota is a-OK for treating a recurring and possibly fatal diarrheal infection.
Isn’t modern medicine wonderful?
A Much-Needed Treatment
But what is Rebyota? The good news (maybe?) is that it’s not just poop.
Rebyota is a liquid mixture containing donor stool, saline, and a laxative solution. Administered as an enema, it contains 10 million living microorganisms per milliliter.
In other words, it’s positively teeming with life. And it all goes up your butt.
But in all honestly, if you need Rebyota, you’ll probably be glad that the treatment is now available. It’s intended for the treatment of Clostridioides difficile (CDI) infections.
“Recurrent CDI impacts an individual’s quality of life and can also potentially be life-threatening. As the first FDA-approved fecal microbiota product, today’s action represents an important milestone, as it provides an additional approved option to prevent recurrent CDI,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a statement.
Indeed, CDI is not a nice condition to have. The bacteria behind the infection produce toxins that cause severe diarrhea.
But crapping yourself may just be the least of your worries if you catch CDI. The toxins can leave your intestines and travel to other parts of your body, resulting in organ failure — and, unsurprisingly, death.
According to the FDA, CDI kills 15,000-30,000 people annually in the U.S. alone. Clearly, we need a treatment for this illness, no matter how disgusting it may be.
Better than the Other Options
It might also surprise you that as far as administering poop implants go, Rebyota is on the more pleasant end of the scale. Earlier unapproved treatments have been… Fascinating.
You see, fecal implants are not a new invention. Despite the lack of official approvals, doctors have for a long time used to try and treat people with microbiome imbalance.
The ways they’ve given people the harvested stool has varied. Many treatments have relied on enemas, like Rebyota.
And then there are the other methods. One way to do it has been to run a tube through the patient’s nose to pump the microorganisms directly into their stomach.
The treatment has also been given as pills. That’s right — people have had to put poop-filled capsules into their mouths and swallow them.
Considering that, the enema doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it? At least the poop will only contact parts of your body that are already covered in s***.
The Risks of Poop
One reason why poop treatments haven’t been approved before is the inherent risk of messing around with feces. It shouldn’t surprise but crap isn’t exactly clean.
It’s a real concern that any fecal-based drug could contain microbes, viruses, or other pathogens. Even if the implant cured the original conditions, these introduced pests could give you even more serious illnesses.
To prevent such a disaster from happening, Rebyota’s producer — the Swiss company Ferring Pharmaceuticals — carefully screens both the poop donors and their… Product. The company combs through each smelly nugget to spot anything on its long list of potential pathogens and other risks.
Still, the process isn’t bulletproof. The FDA does say that as Rebyota is derived from human feces, there’s always a risk that it could carry pathogens or unexpected food allergens.
But clinical studies showed that the treatment is effective in helping people suffering from CDI. The benefits of curing CDI, therefore, outweigh the possible risks — in the FDA’s view.
Really, the only thing left to say is this: are we the only ones who find it ironic that a diarrhea treatment contains laxatives?