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We Should Be Banking Our Poop for Future Use, Scientists Argue

We Should Be Banking Our Poop for Future Use, Scientists Argue
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Experts at Harvard and elsewhere are proposing a new type of bank be set up nationwide: a poop bank. In a paper this week, they argue that it should be possible for people to deposit a fecal sample relatively early on in life, which can then be stored indefinitely and later used to restore their unbalanced gut microbiome if needed. But they add that there would be many challenges involved in creating this system, such as finding the optimal storage conditions and cost.

Fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) have become a standard treatment for chronic infections caused by Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff. By clearing out a person’s gut microbiome with antibiotics, then introducing healthy donor stool, the microbiome can be reset in a way that prevents harmful C. diff bacteria from returning. But scientists are hopeful that these transplants can do even more to improve people’s health, given how important the microbiome seems to be to our overall functioning and wellbeing.

One hurdle to fulfilling this potential is that it can be hard to predict the effects of donor stool on a recipient’s microbiome. Studies have suggested that there may be super donors, for instance, whose poop is much more likely to succeed at treating C. diff infections than average. Other researchers, including the authors of this paper, argue that we might get clearer benefits from banking a person’s healthy stool at a young age and then transplanting it at a later date when they become sick with a relevant health problem.

The proposal comes from researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and is laid out in a paper published Thursday in Trends in Molecular Medicine.

This concept is known as an autologous transplant, and…

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