A Glaswegian doctor claims to have found a core for the life-threatening intestinal disease Clostridium Difficile (C-Diff) - after one of his patients drank someone else's faeces.
Dr Alistair MacConnachie admitted his treatment for C-Diff, which can cause diarrhea, intestinal disease and even death, was "disgusting" - but tests showed it worked in 90 percent of cases.
C-Diff is a gut infection caused by a bacteria imbalance in the stomach, and is particularly prevalent in hospitals because antibiotics used to treat patients' other problems can disrupt the 'good' bacteria in their intestines. C-Diff is often described as a 'super-bug' because it can cause patients to fall ill again and again.
To treat the problem, Dr MacConnachie uses liquid faeces, usually donated by a relation or housemate. This form of 'faecal transplant' restores the balance of bacteria in the gut.
The doctor takes 30g of a donated sample, runs it through a blender and then adds salt water. Next, the brew is strained through a coffee filter, before being served up to the patient. The remedy is taken via a tube up into the nose and then along an internal canal to the stomach.
"It sounds disgusting, it is disgusting and I think people are probably worried about approaching patients and discussing it," Dr MacConnachie told BBC.
"My personal view is that this technique is there for patients who have tried all the traditional treatments.
"If a patient doesn't respond to that and still gets recurrent C Diff, then they're in real trouble and there isn't really any other technique or any other treatment that has the proven efficacy that faecal transplant does."
Laboratory tests on mice by a team of British scientists in Cambridge were successful in 90 percent of cases. They revealed that a cocktail of six bacteria, including faecal bacteria, cured C-Diff.
Dr MacConnachie's stomach-turning treatment won praise from a member of the team which conducted the lab research.
Dr Trevor Lawley, said: "It is quite intuitive to aim for more balanced gut ecosystems.
"Antibiotics are the greatest medical invention ever, but maybe we've overused them and C. Diff is the result. It's a very, very tough bug to deal with."
C-Diff lept to prominence in the UK during the last decade, as an infection blamed on poor hygiene in hospitals. Hard to treat, the threat of C-Diff and MRSA sparked a new focus on cleanliness on wards.
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