NY Times: “Should We Bank Our Own Stool?”

A provocative article poses the question: Should we bank our own stool?

Here’s an excerpt:

The scientific term for this is “autologous fecal transplant.” In theory, it could work like a system reboot disk works for your computer. You’d freeze your feces, which are roughly half microbes, and when your microbiome became corrupted or was depleted with antimicrobials, you could “reinstall” it from a backup copy.

That damage from antibiotics may not be trivial. Studies have linked antibiotic use early in life with a modestly increased risk of asthma,inflammatory bowel diseaseobesity and rheumatoid arthritis. These are associations, of course; they don’t prove that antibiotics cause disease…

Almost 60 years later, the “fecal transplant” is a cutting-edge treatment for the pathogen Clostridium difficile, a bug that kills 29,000 yearly and infects nearly half a million…

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York has also started a proactive stool-banking study. Most of the subjects are patients with leukemia. Before stem cell transplants, patients receive antibiotics andchemotherapy, often wiping out their microbiota…

OpenBiome…started a pilot self-banking program called “PersonalBiome.” One complication: If he stores your stool, you can generally withdraw it only to treat C. difficile, not for preventive “reconstitution.” That’s because stool is regulated as a drug and not, as with embryos or blood, a tissue, which makes its use more complex.

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