Bitter pill: Scientists to trial fat fighting ‘poo tablets’
The future of obesity prevention could lie in human waste, though the results may be hard to swallow.
US scientists are to carry out controlled clinical trials using freeze-dried poo pills to transform stomach bacteria, potentially altering the way certain people store fat. Yes, you read that correctly.
It’s thought that naturally thin people have different gastrointestinal bacteria, or microbes, which determines how they break down food.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital say the unusual new tests will involve taking fecal samples from lean, healthy donors before freeze drying the stool and putting about 2 grams of the stuff into capsules.
The pills will then be given to 20 obese human ‘guinea pigs’ in a bid to replace their intestinal microbes with those of a leaner donor.
The treatment has proven effective in animal studies and there is anecdotal data of success with human patients, reports Ars Technica.
Led researcher Elaine Yu told the tech website her team were cautiously optimistic, although they admit they “have no idea what the result will be.”
A previous 2013 study of the tiny stomach organisms and their link to obesity saw researchers take samples from both lean twins and obese twins and implant them into lab mice.
The mice which took bacteria from the obese twins saw a greater increase in body fat than those given ‘lean microbes’.
“The intact uncultured and culturable [sic] bacterial component of Ob [obese] co-twins’ fecal microbiota conveyed significantly greater increases in body mass and adiposity than those of Ln [lean] communities,” the report concluded.