Fecal transplant involves taking healthy bacteria from normal patients and putting it in the colon of patients with diseases like IBD. There's good evidence that fecal transplant treats C. difficile with high efficacy of a 90% or so response rate with very little toxicity. Researchers are hoping to extend this response rate to patients with IBD. Until now, there have been small case studies and reports saying fecal transplant might work but some saying it doesn't work so well.
At this year's Digestive Diseases Week, there was a studying looking at fecal transplants for patients with ulcerative colitis. The study had about 60 patients. Half of the patients were randomized to fecal transplant and the other half to enemas. The patients received treatment once a week for six weeks. The results showed there wasn't a noticeable difference in response rate between the two treatments. At this dose and frequency, fecal transplants don't help patients with ulcerative colitis.
There are ongoing studies at multiple centers looking at ulcerative colitis in adults and children. At this point, fecal transplants are not indicated as a treatment option for patients with ulcerative colitis outside of clinical trials.
For more information about IBD, visit mayoclinic.org/ibd.
Dr. Pardi is a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic.