Oct. 13, 2014 -- Taking capsules with frozen fecal material helped cure people with diarrhea caused by C. difficile infections, according to a new study.
It included 20 people with chronic C. difficile infections who took 15 capsules with frozen fecal matter on two consecutive days. Symptoms completely disappeared in 14 of the patients, and they had no recurrences over the next two months, BBC News reported.
After another round of treatment, only two patients had further serious episodes of diarrhea, said the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The fecal matter was collected from four healthy people, BBC News reported.
"The small investigation provides preliminary data supporting the safety and efficacy of this approach," study author Elizabeth Hohmann, a professor at Harvard Medical School, said. "More experience and larger studies are needed to determine the long-term safety and efficacy."
The goal is to restore a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestine. Previously, researchers successfully conducted fecal transplants, a process that typically involves delivering fresh fecal matter through a tube or directly into a patient's colon, BBC News reported.
However, that approach is uncomfortable, impractical and can be risky for patients, according to the authors of the new study.
"The use of capsules simplifies the procedure immensely, potentially making it accessible to a greater population," study co-author Dr Ilan Youngster, of Boston Children's Hospital, said.
"But while we are striving to make this treatment more accessible to patients it is important to remind people of the potential dangers of attempting 'home brew' fecal microbiota transplant using fecal material from family members or friends," he emphasized.
"This procedure should only be performed under strict medical supervision with material from thoroughly screened donors," Youngster said.