April 18, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

by Mikayla Hu (23 November 2022)

A new treatment called Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) has recently been approved in Australia – for the first time worldwide. FMT is a process of transferring faecal matter from a donor into the intestinal tract of a recipient and is populates the recipients tract with necessary bacteria to create a diverse microbiome in the gut.

The gut microbiome is a ‘community’ of bacteria, fungi and viruses that lives actively inside your digestive system. This community’s conditions and activities could influence your health by affecting your metabolism and immune responses. Scientists have been investigating the gut microbiome, including its potential to develop novel therapies for chronic digestive diseases. 

FMT has shown efficacy in treating recurrent Clostridium difficile infection and common gastrointestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, according to the regulatory information released by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia.

The first in this process is getting donors, which can be tricky. The right donor must not have any infectious diseases, chronic gastrointestinal disorder, or be immunocompromised. Donors will also be screened for a range of diseases. After you donate, your deposit would get tested once again to make sure there are no harmful pathogens that could harm the patients that is receiving your donation. From there the sample goes through a method of ‘blending’ and other stringent protocols to make sure the sample is properly prepared.

The treatment for now can be administered through the patients anus, but other options also include delivery by enema or nasal passage. But BiomeBank, the biotech firm where FMT has just been approved, has been working on other options to deposit the treatment including one for oral administration. BiomeBank is working with the Hudson Institute to continuously develop new therapies. Once transplanted the recipients colon should be populated with bacteria that can help build an optimal microbiome.

BiomeBank is currently working on a second-generation treatment, which would have specific strains of bacteria being isolated and then replicated, and without the need for the donor. So patients/ recipient can look forward to that in the future if donations remain low.

What do you think of this treatment? Would you ever consider donating?

(This post was edited by Gabriella Sotelo)