Conserving our planet's botanical resources and ecosystems

Biodiversity goes to extremes

Biodiversity goes to extremes — my son, James Burgess, CEO of Open Biome, is trying to track 2 billion things in our intestines, while I am still struggling with a few million insects in the canopy. What a testament to the times! – Meg Lowman

From the New York Times:

Fecal Transplants Made (Somewhat) More Palatable

OpenBiome has made the process, called fecal microbiota transplantation, far simpler. The bank has come up with a capsule containing fecal microbes that can be taken much like any other drug — poop in a pill.

Two studies showed that encapsulated pills, in frozen and freeze-dried form, were effective in treating recurrent C. difficile. But it was not clear how to produce the capsules in large quantities. “It’s got to retain viability,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s got to all be done at room to body temperature.”

The active biological ingredient posed a particular challenge. Capsules are often designed to dissolve in feces; filled with it, the pills essentially degrade from the inside out.

After more than a year and a half, OpenBiome finally developed capsules made with a microbial emulsion that traps tiny droplets of bacterial cells in an aqueous fat. As a result, the pills remain solid at room temperature, then liquefy and dissolve in the upper small intestine.

In a pilot study, presented last month at a scientific meeting in Europe, clinicians showed that swallowing a single dose of 30 capsules cured 70 percent of patients with C. difficile infections. When uncured patients were re-treated with a second dose, the cure rate rose to 94 percent.

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