Delving into fecal transplants

Pagan Kennedy writes, in The Atlantic, the kinds of interest sparked by fecal transplants:

The Poop Outlaws: At-Home Fecal Transplants to Cure Disease

…But such treatments still shimmer in the future. In the meantime, the best approximation we’ve got is, well, crap…. Lately, rumors about poop miracles have been proliferating on the Internet. In patient support groups, people are buzzing about the possibilities of the procedure. Dr. Lawrence Brandt [pictured here], the chief of gastroenterology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, told me that he receives several emails a week from people begging for fecal transplants. It used to be just the c. difficile sufferers. But now he hears from people who are hoping to beat diabetes, autism, or obesity. It’s not clear whether a gut bacteria can help with these complaints, but nonetheless many patients are hoping for a “poop miracle.” They are at the forefront of a a fascinating revolution in medical science. Thanks to new genetic-sequencing tools, scientists are beginning to identify the bacteria that help us digest food, ward off disease, and stay thin. And though doctors still don’t know how to use these bugs to cure us, many patients are ready to leap into the era of living medicine.

A few years ago, a team of Canadian doctors published a study of patients who tried the at-home transplants. The research paper is unusual in that it includes detailed instructions for performing the DIY medical procedure. It’s as if — with a wink and a nod — the scientists are urging patients, especially those who have been turned away from hospitals, to operate on themselves.

BONUS (January 26) A Reuters report about another study.