Good bacteria from human feces could help cure diseases 糞便好菌可望治百病 古代中國就在用

Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 9

The use of feces in medical treatments – what was called “yellow dragon soup” – is documented as early as the Eastern Jin Dynasty in ancient China. Li Shizhen’s Compendium of Materia Medica, written in the Ming dynasty, for example, records that a liquid preparation using fermented feces, fresh fecal suspension and children’s excrement could be used to treat severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and constipation.

There are well over 1,000 types of bacteria to be found in the human gut, but a course of antibiotics will often kill all intestinal bacteria, regardless of whether it is good or bad, leaving only the highly resistant strain clostridium difficile. This bacteria is difficult to kill even with the strongest antibiotics, and can cause protracted bouts of diarrhea.

Doctors overseas have been treating clostridium difficile infection (CDI) using the method of human fecal flora transplantation for over a decade now. This technique involves taking feces from the gut of a healthy individual, processing it, and then transplanting the fecal flora into the patient’s gut, restoring a healthy balance of the intestinal microbiota.

There have been over 200 cases of fecal flora transplantation around the world, predominantly in North America, Europe and China. There have also been several successful cases of the treatment in Taiwan, and the medical sector here wants it to be offered more widely, but as the relevant legislation is not yet in place, whether hospitals can use it to treat patients remains something of a gray area.

For future applications, the technique is being seen as a major area for biotechnology research, and could be used to treat not only CDI but also in cancer immunotherapy and the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, depression and epilepsy.

(CNA, translated by Paul Cooper)

早從中國東晉時代就有使用糞便治病的記錄,也就是所謂的「黃龍湯」,明朝李時珍的《本草綱目》也曾記載,可將發酵過的糞便上清液、新鮮糞汁和小兒糞用來治療嚴重腹瀉、發熱、嘔吐和便秘。

人體腸道內有上千種細菌,許多病患接受抗生素治療後,卻常將腸道內好菌壞菌一併殲滅,只剩下抗藥性強的「困難梭狀桿菌」,造成病患持續拉肚子,即使用了最強的抗生素也難殺菌。

早在十多年前,國外已有醫師以糞菌叢移植的方法治療困難梭狀桿菌感染:醫師將健康人體的糞便經過處理後,把菌叢植入患者腸道內,讓腸道菌群恢復平衡。

全球目前已有超過兩百件以糞菌叢治病的案例,一半集中在北美洲、歐洲及中國大陸。目前,台灣也有多次糞菌叢移植的成功案例,醫界遂希望能將其普遍作為醫療方式,但礙於法規未過,醫院是否能夠使用糞菌叢移植來治療患者仍然處於灰色地帶。

這項技術被視為未來相當重要的生物科技研究領域,不只可治療困難梭狀桿菌感染,也可望用於癌症免疫療法,或是治療糖尿病、肝病、憂鬱症、癲癇等疾病。(中央社)