(ORDO NEWS) — Fecal transplants have made headlines in recent years, showing promising results in everything from treating COVID-19 to anti-aging animal experiments, but we’re still scratching the surface, scientists say.
In humans, this method, in which the stool microbiota is transferred from a healthy person to another person, is commonly used to treat diseases such as Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but experts believe that this method could potentially be used. to fight a much wider range of diseases.
Moreover, by developing a system for autologous fecal transplantation (FMT), in which the donor and recipient are the same person, we can bypass the problems that sometimes arise due to incompatibility of donors and recipients in heterologous transplantation of two people.
But to do this, we need to collect stool samples from people when they are young and healthy and store them for future use in cryostorage in case the patient later needs a transplant.
In other words, we should all deposit our feces with the bank in case we later need to withdraw money. It may sound radical, but it’s a serious proposal, the researchers say.
“Conceptually, the idea of stool banking for autologous FMT is similar to how parents store their child’s cord blood for possible future use,” says systems biologist Yang-Yu Liu of Harvard University.
“However, stool banking has more potential, and we suspect that the chance of using stool samples is much higher than cord blood.”
What’s more, stool banking already exists: the first non-profit stool bank called OpenBiome opened its doors in Somerville, Massachusetts in 2012.
Since then, several such facilities have opened around the world, although most of them tend to store stool samples for subsequent heterologous FMT rather than for autologous transplantation; however, the two systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
“In principle, the same host screening and sample collection procedure could be used to rejuvenate the microbiome by autologous FMT,” Yang and other researchers write in their new paper.
“Instead of starting from scratch, existing high-standard stool banks can be used to rejuvenate the microbiome with autologous FMT.”
There are many issues, including how to adequately and safely store stool specimens in long-term cryopreservation.
But if these problems can be solved – and people can be convinced of the need to store feces in a bank – then in the future we may face a bold new vision of self-sacrifice in medicine.
“Autologous FMTs have the potential to treat autoimmune diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease and aging,” says co-author and epidemiologist Scott T. Weiss of Harvard University.
“We hope this article will serve as an impetus for long-term trials of autologous FMT for disease prevention.”
The results of the study are presented in the journal Trends in Molecular Medicine.
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