Scoop the Poop

The Scoop on Poop to Prevent Diabetes

We could see this one coming. Endocrinologists from the University of Minnesota announced last week that they are on track to begin enrolling patients in March for a controlled trial of stool transplants to prevent diabetes. This will be a small, proof-of-principle study with just 20 subjects. Half will get a fecal transplant from donors with healthy gut microbes. The other half will get a transplant of their own microbes. The primary endpoint will be insulin sensitivity.

We’ve been hearing for a while that fecal transplants are the next big thing. Already, the remarkable effects of fecal transplants for people with life-threatening Clostridium difficile infections have been well documented. A new review in Clinical Microbiology and Infection provides a good overview of a range of potential applications.

Research has shown that intestinal microbes appear to play an important role in good metabolic health. Studies of fecal transplants in mice demonstrate that intestinal microbes can play a big role in metabolism and obesity. Other studies have shown that bariatric surgery might be exerting its effect — at least in part — through an effect on gut microbes. Likewise, some foods that lead to metabolic problems might have some effect on these microbes.

So as jolting as the headline was, we were not surprised to see it. Watch this space.

Click here to read more from the Minneapolis StarTribune and here to read the review in Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

Scoop the Poop, photograph © Scott Akerman / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.