their way to the colon and seed it with the normal variety of bacteria.
Louie described 27 patients treated this way on Thursday at IDWeek, an infectious diseases conference in San Francisco. All had suffered at least four C-diff infections and relapses, but none had a recurrence after taking the poop pills.
Margaret Corbin, 69, a retired nurse's aide from Calgary, told of the misery of C-diff.
"It lasted for two years. It was horrible. I thought I was dying. I couldn't eat. Every time I ate anything or drank water I was into the bathroom," she said. "I never went anywhere, I stayed home all the time."
With her daughter as the donor, she took pills made by Louie two years ago, and "I've been perfectly fine since," Corbin said.
Dr. Curtis Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who has done fecal transplants through colonoscopies, praised the work.
"The approach that Dr. Louie has is completely novel - no one else has done this," he said. "I am optimistic that this type of preparation will make these procedures much easier for patients and for physicians."
The treatment now must be made fresh for each patient so the pills don't start to dissolve at room temperature, because their water content would break down the gel coating. Minnesota doctors are testing freezing stool, which doesn't kill the bacteria, so it could be stored and shipped anywhere a patient needed it.
"You could have a universal donor in Minnesota provide a transplant for someone in Florida. That's where we're heading," Donskey said.
Other researchers are trying to find which bacteria most help fight off C-diff. Those might be grown in a lab dish and given to patients rather than the whole spectrum of bacteria in stool.
The hope is "we could administer that as a probiotic in a pill form," Donskey said.
Louie sees potential for the poop pills for other people with out-of-whack gut bacteria, such as hospitalized patients vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant germs.
"This approach, to me, has wide application in medicine," he said. "So it's not just about C-diff."