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In the News: Fecal transplant offers rare hope against deadly colon disease

Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio’s Lorna Benson highlighted a unique procedure that’s been gaining attention over the past few years: fecal transplantation.

And yes, the procedure is exactly what it sounds like.

According to Benson’s report, University of Minnesota physicians are transplanting human feces into the colons of patients battling clostridium difficile.  What’s more – the procedure isn’t just working, but it’s providing hope to patients battling severe illness that can result from the infection, which is often resistant to antibiotics.

Benson reports:

“Doctors say fecal transplants could allow patients to more quickly develop their own natural defenses against clostridium difficile, an infection that kills 14,000 people in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which many contract in hospitals, typically are treated with strong drugs. But using the antibiotics can be a double-edged sword, as the drugs also destroy good bacteria that normally keep harmful bacteria in check. If too much good bacteria are lost, the disease can flare up again soon after antibiotic treatment is stopped.”

Since the University of Minnesota started its program in 2009, gastroenterologist Alexander Khoruts, M.D., has performed more than 100 fecal transplants.  The Mayo Clinic has also started offering the procedure, though Benson points out their program is in the early stages.

For more, visit MPR’s web site.

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