back to article The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS

This is an article that some readers, particularly those of a fainter-hearted disposition, might want to avoid. It’s about a big movement that some people might find a tad distasteful. For those of a more intrepid nature: we’re going to be looking at something called “microbiome” and the impact this is having in a wide range …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sterility, the modern scourge!

    Could it be that a more sterile life is leading to various conditions?

    1. PleebSmash
      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sterility, the modern scourge!

        "being too clean can impair the skins ability to heal"

        My skin will be bullet proof then.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sterility, the modern scourge!

          Re: Ledswinger

          You too, huh?

          1. phil dude

            Re: Sterility, the modern scourge!

            clean != sterile

            Biochem 101


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Sterility, the modern scourge!

              "more sterile" != actually sterile

              grammar 101

  2. Conundrum1885

    A while back

    There was a "brown ribbon day" to promote FMT.

    Also relevant, this technique has been used since antiquity by rabbit and cavy owners to "fix" a sick rabbit with gut related problems.

    The trick it seems is to use the right kind of pellet and feed it to the rabbit a piece at a time, repeating every day until it improves.

    Seems to work a lot better than antibiotics for the same reason, in fact the latest consensus is that the problem was caused by excessive use of antibiotics in farm animals and for treating colds and flu without first finding out if the secondary infection was even responsive.

    There's even a name for the FMT delivery method:- Crapsules.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: A while back

      Well, a big dose of antibiotics will kill off a lot of your gut fauna, so it's entirely possible it could cause digestive problems.

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: A while back

      Been used for thousands of years to treat diarrhea diseases, including cholera.

      Bedouins were known to pop camel droppings to treat diarrhea, to good effect and such usage was documented and revived interest in the practice, way back in WWI.

  3. fridaynightsmoke

    Sewerage workers

    I always assumed that the brave folk who wade through the turds of millions every day would be carriers of every disease going; but it seems that they may be invulnerable SUPERMEN!

    So, is anyone doing a study on them? Are the workers down at the shit farm living to 100?

    And, I can see a superhero origin story here.

    1. PleebSmash

      Re: Sewerage workers

      The problem there is that the aggregate of everyone's pee and poo water contains pathogens, which are apparently screened out in the NON-DIY POOP REVERSALS.

      Sanitation is a pretty cool story.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sewerage workers

      Septc Man -

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sewerage workers

      "I can see a superhero origin story here"

      Don't let Septic Man team up with any sentient urinal cakes, they'll nullify each other...

    4. oldcoder

      Re: Sewerage workers

      What? You missed the Toxic Avenger?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    This gives a whole new meaning to the words :

    Shiat happens !

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Gut feeling

    Factor in the high concentration of neurons lining the gut that some researchers have dubbed the "second brain" and our "inner worm" shapes up as a driver of both wellbeing and, possibly, behaviour.

    1. tojb

      Re: Gut feeling

      Gut to brain transfer of some kind of pathogen via neurons (often very long for single cells) has been put forward as part of the etiology of Parkinson's. I didn't realise that there was any specially strong gut-brain connection relative to lungs-brain or whatever, do you have some links or pointers so that I can follow it up?

  6. Banksy


    I don't consider this disgusting at all. It's a really interesting area and shows yet again how poor our medical science is in some fields.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disgusting?

      This is certainly an area without much research until recently, but it is fair to say that throughout most of our history the more sterile the environment the better off we were, so it is not surprising it took us a while to catch on to this.

  7. David Roberts

    Anti rejection drugs?

    Gives a whole new take on transplant anti-rejection drugs.

    You're going to do what???

    Here, try some of this.

    WHOAH! Heavy - let's eat some shit!

  8. jake Silver badge

    In other words ...

    ... eating live food and snogging your partner's nether regions has health benefits.

    I'm fairly certain we've know this (or at least the basics) for about 100 years.

  9. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Gut ... er journalism?

    Sorry - I couldn't resist that ... but this is old news - the practice is ancient and works well, why do you think mothers chew food for their babies? Sure, our "modern" world frowns on such simple medicine but the fact is, it works.

    It would have been a more interesting story if you'd followed up on the resistance to this type of research from the FDA and medical professions in the USA and other countries. Another interesting angle on this is that a hookworm infection can apparently cure hay-fever.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Gut ... er journalism?

      It starts earlier than mothers chewing food for the babies - at birth IIRC.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gut ... er journalism?

      At the modern technological stage, these transplants have been taking place for a number of years, so why the sudden headlines - quiet day???

    3. teebie

      Re: Gut ... er journalism?

      "the practice is ancient" has mixed results - the precursors to aspirin have been used since Hippocrates' time, but so were treatments based on the 4 humours.

      Of course, if something seems to work it's good to know that it actually does work, and why (like discovering it isn't the surgery that fixes stomach ulcers, but the antibiotics given afterwards)

    4. airbrush

      Re: Gut ... er journalism?

      You can listen to Jaspers story here, its fascinating :

  10. Michael Habel Silver badge

    What a shitty Article

    This article stinks... There it had to be said...

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: What a shitty Article

      Actually now that I think about it... Some more....

      It brings a whole new meaning to the Phrase: "Taking a Dump". As in I'm gonna go take a Dump. Which I never really understood... Surely it should be leaving a Dump... I mean why would you want to take it for?

  11. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I was a stick insect for most of my early life

    I could (and did) eat anything and drink as much as I could and never put on an ounce. After a course of vicious antibiotics I ballooned. Spent years fighting it to no avail. I now have a dog and I think the little bastard licking my face after licking his arse has done the trick though it could be the long walks to the pub!

    1. Duffy Moon

      Re: I was a stick insect for most of my early life

      Perhaps the dog has just given you a nice infestation of parasites and now you don't absorb as much nutrition?

  12. RumRunner

    I'm starting an eBay shop selling my poo.

    Guaranteed top quality. Hardly stinks. Best prices.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first

      Re: I'm starting an eBay shop selling my poo.

      eBay? peeBay, surely? It's only next door.

  13. Cipher


    Eat shit for health?

    I thought the old saying was "Eat shit and die."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      Yes, but then there's "shit-eating grin..."

  14. Johnny Canuck


    Perhaps people who indulge in coprophagia are actually responding to their bodies instinktual need for healthier microbiota.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eat shi!t and...

      oh, alright then.

    2. Rambler

      Re: Coprophagia

      and maybe those two girls with that one cup, were actually medical students engaged in vital research ?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Coprophagia

    Maybe that explains 2g1c then .. DIY FMT ?

    Pretty sure I saw something else about this on FB, involving a syringe and a blender. And the fascist admins took it down!

    Still if £2 worth of empty capsules and a donor turd can cure C difficile in vivo which normally requires multiple courses of $600 a dose vancomycin to even make a dent, then no wonder it was taken down.

    Gotta protect Big Pharma's investments and all that.

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime

      Re: Re. Coprophagia

      Are you sure it wasn't a turkey baster?

  16. Eric Olson

    The less yucky transplant is here...

    Here in the states, they've successfully taken healthy, um.... donations, screen them, get rid of the useless bits, freeze them, then deposit it into many-layered glycerin capsules that can be taken orally, no enema or GI tube needed. This allowed the bacteria make it to the intestines unmolested by the stomach acids and enzymes that often spell death to bacteria.

    Now, I think it was something like 15 capsules a day, and the capsules are pretty large... but that seems preferable to aspirating fecal matter through a GI tube or going through a colonoscopy.

    Source: NPR

  17. Rol

    About my pay rise

    "You're not going to thank me immediately for this, but I'm gonna have to shit in your mouth to rule out a medical condition for refusing my pay rise"

  18. Christian Berger

    We'll need to wait for studies

    However unlike other pseudo medical treatments this actually could be plausible.

    What we need now are decent quality studies.

    And no, even if this can be a treatment to certain conditions, it doesn't mean that sanitation isn't one of the greatest achievements in health care. The situations where you have to little bacteria in your guts are rare, for example after a long treatment of antibiotics. Normally we all have a decent amount of gut bacteria. The gut normally regulates itself rather well.

  19. Diogenes

    Koalas do it

    Koalas do not naturally digest gum leaves - gut bacteria break them down & the koalas absorb the byproduct as nutrients.

    Mum koala, when she is ready to wean her young, poops a special poop that is very high in the appropriate gut bacteria & the young climbs round the back and consumes same, and thus gets the bacteria & can start on those oh so yummy gum leaves (note the old urban legend about them being drunk is false , the leaves are so low in nutrients they conserve energy by sleeping 20 hours a day)

    Then one is also reminded of the story that kissing came about because in pre knife days mum chewed the food to make it easier for young immature teeth & jaws to handle, and start the digestion process

  20. ricardoscotland

    It seems time and again 4 billions years of evolution finds the best answer, I'd rather take a crap capsule than antibiotics for a desired outcome (in theory anyway).

    Surely "who gives a shit" will be the perfect slogan for marketing to donors...

  21. DocJames

    C.diff treatment

    So having being involved in the treatment of some patients, I feel the need to state a couple of facts:

    1) faecal transplants are for prevention of relapse, at which they are very effective. Without the preceeding course of antibiotics for the C.diff, you will not cure it (or at least are unlikely to do so).

    2) route doesn't matter as success is ~90% with all routes: capsules (expensive), NG tube (faecalent belching), UGIE (expensive, belching again), colonoscopy (expensive, possibly very expensive if you can't get the ports unblocked and bin $1000 kit following a procedure, time consuming), enema (simple, cheap). You'll guess the route we use locally. It is of surprise to our dept which sees foolish doctors colleagues around the world using complex and difficult procedures rather than quick cheap ones. In infection control we spend our days trying to stop between 1-100 bacteria getting into the gut; in faecal transplant if you squirt in 10-50ml enema with 10^10-10^12 bacteria/ml, you seem to have a larger number...

    3) this procedure is inevitably described as "icky" or similar. It is always welcomed by patients, as C.diff is seriously unpleasant. The ick factor is experienced by the doctors/relatives/readers of websites.

    4) there are many many crazy people out there, claiming many many crazy things. Let's not attribute magic powers to faecal transplants: I remain sceptical about correlation v causation for obesity, weight loss, etc. "Further trials are needed..." and Crohns: definitely not. Sorry.

    Finally, what medical school did the author attend if he is not capable of using Linnean binomials correctly? It's Clostridium difficile. Capital, small. Hence icon...

  22. elitejedimaster

    I've actually observed a fecal transplant procedure in the hospital in which I work. It was to a patient with C. diff, and apart from the discomfort of the nasogastric tube, went very well. It takes just a few minutes to complete, and the patient gets no icky taste of poo, because the tube is placed into the duodenum (initial part of small intestine for those not medically inclined). A rather interesting procedure, actually.

    1. DocJames

      Sadly faecalent belching is still reported from duodenal insertion. And can I ask how was anyone sure the NG in the duodenum? (NJ route also reports occasional problems, but then that's additional complexity for not much improvement.)

  23. Happy Ranter

    My boss can be a donor

    He is full of s**t but I suspect most of it will be useless

  24. Crisp
    Thumb Up

    The Scrubs musical episode was right!

    Everything does come down to poo!

  25. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

    RIM jobs good for those who still have one?

    GPs suggesting their patients to watch and be inspired by "The human centipede" and "Two girls one cup", saving the NHS billions of pounds?

  26. phil dude

    technology limitations...

    This just goes to show how much we have yet do discover.

    It is common practice in a lab to "spin down" cultures using a centrifuge and you get a pell of bacteria. Loads of them.

    The problem is we don't know *which* otherwise there would be a pill you can take, or they could stir it in the yoghurt with out calling it chocolate...

    Beer, it has microbes too.


  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As someone that suffers from severe IBS & Diverticular disease I've been following this for a few years. Just hope at some point it gets Nice approval and becomes available on the NHS.

    Not particularly bothered about the delivery method oral capsules would be nice but if it helps rid me of my condition would accept it via colonoscopy or whatever was needed. Pretty sure it would be cost effective as well, currently taking 13 different medications daily so surely long term this would be a cheaper option for the NHS.

  28. myhandler

    It's science - the number of "ooh isn't this pongy" jokes in the article only serve to make it clear how the Register should get off it's end of the pier comedy routine sometimes.

    BBC reported on this topic months ago.

  29. Richard Wharram

    Dangerous news

    What happens when the population starts tracking down the oldest, skinniest people they can find and imprisons them as stool-factories for the obviously good crap they have?

    What happens?


  30. Longboard

    Powwer of Poop

    You guys need to catch up...

    You'll laff, you'll cry, you'll hurl...

    Faecal transplants have been around for many years.

    There is increasing credible research re priobiotics

    No real insight as to which why when as yet.

    No ability to reproduce the true gut milieu as yet

    No ability to recolonize the gut with the trillions of bacteria required.

    It is interesting that probiotics are classified as "foodstuffs", not drugs and therefore the pharmaceutical companies cannot license/patent/own as yet, so no real $$ at stake for them ..yet..

    Mostly the fermenting scale required for probiotics rests in the hands of big dairy companies so far.

    The corollary is that without TGA type review/quality control, you may have no idea as to what you are putting in yo mouth: could be a right mix of shyte.

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  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My girlfriend is slim

    Now that I learned we share 80 millions bacteria just kissing, maybe we could broaden our relationship and I lose weight? If that's not love...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got a new medical training video for you. It's called Two Girls, One Cup....

    Runs away and hides

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why Roundup Ready crops a re a disaster

    While our digestive systems don't process the glyphosate residue in the Roundup Ready food (?) product, the bacteria in our guts do and don't fare well as a result.

  36. Benjol

    Interesting, maybe Catherine Kousmine WAS onto something. Following trials on mice she was convinced that (some) cancer is related to diet, via the complicated relationships between the immune system and gut bacteria.

  37. teebie

    Advancement of science

    I (coincidentally(*)) listened to 2 podcasts about this at the same time, one was about 2 years older, and outlined the possibilites of fecal transpants, one was up to date and said that, if a fecal transplant was made from a skinny twin to a fat twin the fat twin would lose weight.

    So 2 years is how long science takes to get from "early implementation" to "psychotic pranksterism"

    (*) I don't have a google alert for "pooh transference"

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