Fecal transplants may help combat obesity and diabetes: Know more about this new treatment – TheHealthSite

Posted: May 6, 2020 at 8:02 pm

Many of you may not have heard of fecal transplants, which are currently used to treat gastrointestinal infections and other conditions. Also known as bacteriotherapy or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), this treatment method involves transfer of stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract of another person to restore the balance of bacteria in their gut. Also Read - Health Tech: Gadgets that have made life easier for people with diabetes

In addition to antibiotic-resistant diarrhea, fecal transplantation has been used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. Now, a new study suggests that it could also be effective against obesity and type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that transplanting viruses from feces into obese mice significantly decreased their weight gain as well as normalized their glucose tolerance. Also Read - Intensive insulin therapy can keep diabetic complications away, but it comes with drawbacks too

The researchers hope that a similar treatment, in which only the virus in stool is transplanted, may help people suffering from obesity and type 2 diabetes. The virus particles, so-called bacteriophages, from the feces specifically attack other bacteria and not humans. Also Read - Eating within 10-hour window may help stave off diabetes, heart disease: Study

Until now, stool is transplanted in an unfiltered form believing that it is the gut bacteria which are most effective. The new study, however, filter the stool to remove all live bacteria and maintain only the virus particles mainly bacteriophages. This makes the method safer, the researchers said.

For the study, the researchers transmitted virus particles from the stool of lean mice to obese mice on a high-fat diet. They then found that obese mice gain significantly less weight compared to those that do not receive the transplanted intestinal viruses. At the same time, the blood glucose tolerance of transplanted mice was normalised. This suggests that fecal transplant may protect against developing glucose intolerance, which is a precursor of type 2 diabetes.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked to imbalances in the gastrointestinal microbiome, also known as gut flora. Eating unhealthy diet can cause an imbalance in their intestinal tract. Previous studies have revealed that the composition of viruses in the gut plays a crucial role in the balance of this microbiome.

Fecal transplants may help in recuperating balance by shooting missing virus particles back into the system. However, it will take years before the method can be broadly deployed. More experiments and human trials are needed, the University of Copenhagen researchers noted. They also pointed out that method is not a stand-alone solution and that it must be complemented with a change in diet.

In recent years, fecal transplants have become a popular way of treating Clostridium difficile, a common bacterial stomach infection that causes diarrhea.

Some small-scale studies have shown fecal transplant treatment effectives against such serious case of diarrhea. Researchers have found that fecal transplants may help manage other gastrointestinal conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But their effectiveness varies among studies. According to a 2016 review, success rates in trials ranged from 36.2% to 77.8%.

Fecal transplants are also being considered for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes a wide range of digestive problems.

Published : May 5, 2020 11:46 pm | Updated:May 6, 2020 8:48 am

Fecal transplants may help combat obesity and diabetes: Know more about this new treatment - TheHealthSite

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