21 Aug Studies Examine Fecal Transplant Treatments for Crohn’s
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), also known as a stool transplant, may soon be a treatment option for children afflicted with Crohn’s disease thanks to the work of a researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is often accompanied by a variety of symptoms and health complications. Current treatment options are limited to maintaining remission of the inflammation with the aid of steroids and other medications.
Using FMT as a treatment option for Crohn’s is the vision of Dr. David Suskind, Attending Physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. Dr. Suskind first thought of this option when treating a Clostridium difficile bacterial infection patient with FMT and noticed a marked improvement in the patient’s IBD symptoms. He hypothesized that the introduction of healthy donor bacteria to a patient’s gastrointestinal tract might serve to positively reset the bacterial community of the tract, thereby alleviating or eliminating symptoms of Crohn’s.
“Medicine has focused mostly on suppressing the immune response in IBD,” said Dr. Suskind. “Using FMT in conjunction with a specific nutrition therapy, we alter the fecal microbiome, the likely trigger of the immune system. This is a radical change in treatment paradigm.”
To start testing his theory, Dr. Suskind led an FDA-approved transplant study in children with IBD, the first of its kind ever approved. His initial study replaced patients’ gut bacteria with healthy bacteria by mixing donor stool with saline and administering the solution into the stomach via a tube down the nose. This study showed promise, and Dr. Suskind has just recently secured FDA approval for a new, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to further explore this treatment option.
“Each study we do not only sheds more light on potential new treatments for IBD but also on the etiologic factors that cause IBD,” said Dr. Suskind.
To support his studies, Dr. Suskind works with the Children’s Core for Biomedical Statistics (CCBS) at the Institute of Translational Health Sciences on study design and clinical data analysis. He also collaborates with CCBS on how best to summarize and integrate microbiome data with clinical data.
In addition, CCBS provided data capture training to Dr. Suskind’s clinical team, which is using REDCap, a free ITHS web-based application for electronic data capture. The study team also worked with the ITHS biomedical informatics group to develop a user-friendly adverse event tracker in REDCap.
“ITHS provides the support and foundation from which these innovative studies can be done. I value ITHS and the support it gives me and other researchers,” concluded Dr. Suskind.