Freezing poop up to -112°F seems the solution to preserve the original microbiome
According to researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston explained in this article, preserved feces samples froze to -112 degrees Fahrenheit may hold the key to healing illnesses in later life.
The evidence for the connection between the gut and immune health is in the poop. In the latest report published in Trends in Molecular Medicine, the researchers noted that changes to the gut microbiome in recent decades have correlated with increased rates of chronic diseases like asthma, allergies, digestive system problems, and Type 2 diabetes.
They have therefore proposed storing samples of young healthy feces which include all the same microbes as those in the gut lining that could deage the body.
“The idea of ‘rewilding’ the human microbiome has taken off in recent years and has been hotly debated from medical, ethical, and evolutionary perspectives”, in a statement to ScienceDaily, corresponding author Yang-Yu Liu, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said.
Researchers suggested a technique in which fecal matter that would have been frozen decades earlier would be thawed and given to the same patient again. Fecal microbiota is transplanted by a procedure known as an autologous (i.e., taken from the same person it is being given to currently).
Researchers add that it’s not yet clear whether modern individuals would benefit in any way from going back in time with their own microbiome. However, fecal transplants are already being researched and used in various medical fields. For instance, a new treatment for C. diff, or Clostridioides difficile, which infects 500,000 Americans each year and kills around 29,000 of them, uses healthy donor feces.
The new study addresses some of the more practical difficulties associated with keeping feces for extended periods of time, such as cost and storage techniques.
“As scientists, our job is to provide a scientific solution that may eventually benefit human well-being”, Liu said, acknowledging the financial barrier to entry for patients. “Developing a reasonable business model and pricing strategy so that the solution is affordable to everyone would require the joint force of entrepreneurs, scientists and perhaps governments”.
The associate director of the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and study co-author Scott T. Weiss, a Harvard professor of medicine, is adamant about the potential of the treatment.
“Autologous FMTs (Fecal Microbiota Transplantations) have the potential to treat autoimmune diseases like asthma, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease and aging”, Weiss told ScienceDaily. “We hope this paper will prompt some long-term trials of autologous FMTs to prevent disease”.