London: Capsules containing frozen faecal material may help clear up infections caused by C difficile bacteria, scientists say.
Clostridium difficile bacteria live harmlessly in many people's guts alongside hundreds of other species. But some antibiotics can kill off C difficile's competitors, allowing the bugs to multiply and produce masses of toxins.
This can lead to serious diarrhoea and may be fatal.
In the new study, a team of scientists from US and Israel treated 20 people with chronic C difficile infections using frozen faecal capsules.
The capsules were made using faecal material from four carefully screened healthy volunteers.
Each patient was given 15 capsules on two consecutive days.
For 14 of the 20 people involved their symptoms completely disappeared, with no recurrences in the following two months, 'BBC News' reported.
After another course of treatment, only two patients had further worrying episodes of diarrhoea.
Scientists have already carried out successful faecal transplants, a therapy that generally involves administering fresh excrement through a tube or directly to the colon.
But researchers argued that this is uncomfortable, impractical and can carry risks for patients.
"The use of capsules simplifies the procedure immensely, potentially making it accessible to a greater population," said Dr Ilan Youngster from Boston Children's Hospital, who was involved in the study.
"But while we are striving to make this treatment more accessible to patients it is important to remind people of the potential dangers of attempting 'home brew' faecal microbiota transplant using faecal material from family members or friends," Youngster said.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.