Faecal transplants successful for treatment-resistant ulcerative colitis
3 June 2016
Dr Linda Calabresi
Faecal transplantation may be the answer for patients with treatment-resistant ulcerative colitis, Australian researchers say.
Their study involved more than 80 patients with ulcerative colitis who were resistant or could not tolerate to conventional treatment — steroid or anti-inflammatories. Half the patients received faecal microbiota transplantation and half received placebo (dummy treatment).
Three times as many patients in the transplantation group responded to treatment, compared with the control group who received dummy treatment.
In particular, 11 of the 41 faecal transplant patients responded after 8 weeks, compared with 3 of the placebo patients.
Response was classified as: no ulcerative colitis symptoms and clinically-assessed healing; or significant improvement of the bowel mucosa.
The findings, presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference in San Diego in the US last week, support the role of faecal transplants as an option for treating ulcerative colitis, which previously had only very limited evidence of effectiveness, said the researchers from the University of NSW.
Lead researcher Dr Sudarshan Paramsothy, a gastroenterologist at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, said: “This is important because there are millions of people worldwide seeking alternative treatments for their condition.
"This population is accustomed to using enemas as part of previous treatment, so our approach would not be unusual to them.”
Patients received the first faecal transplant or placebo treatment via colonoscopy, with subsequent enemas being self-administered 5 days a week for 8 weeks.
Each faecal microbiota transplantation enema consisted of stool from at least 3 healthy donors to ensure the study results were not influenced by a ‘donor effect’, in which one particular donor is responsible for specific recipient outcomes.