Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taipei hospital opens nation’s first gut microbiota lab

Staff writer with CNA

A Taipei Veterans General Hospital doctor, left, presents flowers to a patient surnamed Tseng, right, who underwent a successful gut microbiota implant treatment at a news conference at the hospital on Wednesday.

Photo: CNA

Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Wednesday launched Taiwan’s first dedicated gut microbiota laboratory, in a bid to develop new therapies for people with infections that cause diarrhea.

The laboratory is expected to store at least 100 fecal samples to study gut microbiota, which could contribute to the treatment of Clostridium difficile — a bacteria that is often spread in healthcare facilities — as well as autism, Parkinson’s disease, allergies and diabetes, among others, the hospital said.

Hou Ming-chi (侯明志), director of the hospital’s Medicine Department, told reporters that while Clostridium difficile is found in the gut of about two to three people out of every 1,000, only 2 percent of them develop a Clostridium difficile infection.

Symptoms can range from diarrhea to life-threatening sepsis, Hou said.

A Clostridium difficile infection most commonly occurs in people who have received antibiotic treatment for a long time or have used antacids, he said, adding that older people and people who have a weak immune system are more prone to being infected.

People with a Clostridium difficile infection used to be treated with antibiotics, but the recurrence rate was high, Hou said, adding that the overall mortality rate among people hospitalized for Clostridium difficile is as high as 30 percent within 30 days of diagnosis.

Researchers in the US have implanted gut microbiota extracted from a healthy person’s fecal sample into the intestines of people with a Clostridium difficile infection to restore the balance of bacteria.

To ensure the quality of its gut microbiota, the hospital said it only receives fecal samples from people who are under the age of 65, with a body mass index lower than 25 and with no history of diabetes or hepatitis.

A person cannot donate if they have traveled overseas or has used antibiotics within three months, the hospital said.

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