Fecal transplant industry needs a lot of ‘quality’ poop. Where does it come from?

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Image: Erik Jacobs/OpenBiome

To reset the microbiome, the best medicine comes from the last place you’d expect: a fecal transplant, in which a healthy person’s stool is transferred to the patient’s gut. 

To recruit participants, OpenBiome, a nonprofit stool bank that supplies most of the material for transplants across the country, has crafted a slogan to stir altruistic zeal in potential donors: “Make Your Morning Routine Heroic.” They’ve found there’s no shortage of willing help, which makes sense considering how easy it is to help restore a fellow human’s health while earning $40 per donation. To think that all these years we’ve been flushing a miracle drug down the toilet.

The problem is not quantity, but quality. Donors at OpenBiome and other companies must pass intensive screenings — for allergies, medical and travel history, infectious diseases and much more — to guarantee the purity of their stool. 

In the end, just 2 or 3 percent of potential donors are granted the privilege of passing along their poop.

As the industry scales up, and as more studies link a healthy gut to a healthy body, they hope to use machine learning and computational strategies to pin down “smoking gun” bacteria most effective at treating specific ailments.

Related article:  Were the Denisovans a collection of 3 different species?

Read full, original post: Where Does the Fecal Transplant Industry Get its Poop?

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