A new method of treating Clostridium Difficile.

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Badri
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Full Name: Kannivelu Badrinath
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A new method of treating Clostridium Difficile.

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One of the most serious infections often seen in a hospital is Clostridium difficile infection. In England 13000 people suffer from it every year. Antibiotics are the first line of treatment and most cases are cured by them. But in about 20 per cent of cases antibiotics do not work. Those patients can suffer recurring bouts of diarrhoea so severe that most lose their jobs, stop seeing friends and family, and refuse to leave their homes. In the United States it is estimated that 10% of patients over 65 die within a month of being diagnosed with the condition. The infection is considered to arise from side effect of antibiotics given for other conditions, which wipe out all essential bacteria from the gut.

Scientists have now proved that the condition can be effectively treated by giving the patient a small dose of "faeces" form a healthy donor. "Healthy bacteria" from the donor will colonise the gut of the affected patient and eliminate C difficile. A faecal transplant will cure 96 per cent of patients, effectively giving them their lives back.

Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth has now established a frozen faecal bank. A faecal transplant delivers healthy bacteria into the gut of a patient using faeces from a healthy donor. The bank is part of a pilot project run by Dr Robert Porter, Consultant in microbiology and infection at Portsmouth Hospitals’ NHS Trust. It is funded by the Wessex Academic Health Science Network and supported by senior lecturer and researcher Carole Fogg, at the University of Portsmouth.

Before the bank was established the sample would have to be provided by a donor, processed and administered via a nasogastric tube into the small intestine, repopulating healthy bacteria in the gut. A trial in Holland was stopped because the transplants were performing so well with near total success rate that it was considered unethical to deny treatment to the control group.

Dr Porter said:“Faecal transplants are extremely successful and the impact on people’s lives of such a simple treatment is difficult to overstate". The bank collects samples from pre-screened volunteers. Frozen samples, which can be stored for three months, can be transported anywhere in the UK within hours.
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