$13,000 a year for your poop!
$13,000 a year for your poop!
We are all familiar with the importance of blood and organ donations that save thousands of lives every year.
Now it turns out that you can become a stool donor, save lives, and earn money. An American public stool bank, Openbiome, offers $40 per stool sample for the life-saving treatment of people with recurrent Clostridium difficile gut infection who failed to recover with conventional antibiotic therapy.
Image credit: Tom Coppen via Flickr
Fecal microbiota transplantation
The professional term for poop transplant is fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), a technique that is controversial and still under investigation. As you might have guessed already, the procedure involves the transfer of healthy faecal matter into a patient’s intestine. There are multiple routes of administration such as colonoscopy, nasal tube or capsules.
Frozen stool. Image credit: Fabpop online via Flickr
The gut microbiome
Why would anyone get such a repulsive idea? Well, the human gut contains trillions of microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria. The bacterial community, a delicate ecosystem, make up our microbiome and has important functions for health and wellbeing.
The naturally occurring microbes aid in nutrient metabolism, prevention against disease causing microorganisms and act as an intestinal barrier. Scientists have linked the wrong balance of bugs in our gut to various aspect of human health from gastrointestinal diseases to obesity. By manipulating the microbiome via FMT scientists believe this unbalance can be repaired. But currently this technique is only FDA (US food and drug administration) approved for the treatment of C. difficile infection
Clostridium difficile infection
C. difficile is a rod-shaped bacterium usually found in soil and water. The bacterium is also found in the normal microflora of some people but who may spread the bacterium, but never get sick themselves. Symptoms of C. difficile infection include abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. The infection is often contracted in hospitals and the most common risk factor forC. difficile infection is antibiotic use as it disrupts the normal balance in the intestines.
Evidence for FDT treatment of C. difficile
Currently, FDT is only FDA approved for the treatment of C. difficile infection. It is estimated that half a million Americans contract the infection each year and that the condition causes up to 30,000 deaths. According to Openbiome, 1 in 5 patients get recurrent infection and doesn’t respond to antibiotics. For this subset of patients there are some evidence that FDT is an efficient treatment. Across a number of studies, the efficiency of FDT treatment for C. difficile infection is estimated to ranges from 81-94%, meaning that above 80% of the patients will be cured by FDT. Based on this the use of FMT for recurrent C. difficile medical societies supports FMT as standard of care in the US for this group of patients.
So there is no time to waste: Earn money on your poop and save lives!