Faecal transplants: a new cure for chronic bowel disorders?

BiomeBank, in association with Hospital Research Foundation, was established in Adelaide in 2013 and is the first public stool bank in Australia to treat chronic bowel disorders by using a procedure called faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).

Co-founders Dr Sam Costello and Dr Rob Bryant said FMT, which helps replenish the good bacteria within the patient’s gut, was proving to be a lifesaving procedure for patients with debilitating Clostridioides Difficile (C-Diff) infection and had shown promising results in other bowel conditions. This is supported by new research from the University of Adelaide that shows that faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) can successfully treat patients with ulcerative colitis.

‘We have been facilitating FMT for patients with C-Diff since 2013, with a cure rate of about 90 percent,’ Dr Costello said. ‘In addition to treating patients with C-Diff, trials have shown promising results in inducing remission of Ulcerative Colitis. We are currently conducting a trial to determine if we can maintain remission of this disease.’

However, access to FMT therapy has been limited to South Australia due to restrictions on transporting the faecal product across state borders, and further into the global market. To counter this, BiomeBank opened its first purpose-built laboratory this March in Adelaide. The laboratory is central to the process where the stool from a healthy person (who has undergone stringent screening) is processed and then transplanted into the bowel of a patient with disease.

“With the new laboratory, we aim to gain the crucial accreditation needed from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to enable safe and reliable stool distribution interstate and also internationally.”

Restoration of the gut microbiota is a key novel therapeutic approach of interest, and FMT is gaining increasing importance in both clinical and research settings. AMP