Background: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), a complication of antibiotic-induced injury to the gut microbiome, is a prevalent and dangerous cause of infectious diarrhea. Antimicrobial therapy for CDI is typically effective for acute symptoms, but up to one third of patients later experience recurrent CDI. Fecal-derived microbiota transplantation (FMT) can ameliorate the underlying dysbiosis and is highly effective for recurrent CDI. Traditional methods of FMT are limited by patient discomfort, risk and inefficient procedures. Many individuals with recurrent CDI have extensive comorbidities and advanced age. Widespread use of FMT requires strategies that are non-invasive, scalable and applicable across healthcare settings.
Methods: A method to facilitate microbiota transfer was developed. Fecal samples were collected and screened for potential pathogens. Bacteria were purified, concentrated, cryopreserved and formulated into multi-layered capsules. Capsules were administered to patients with recurrent CDI, who were then monitored for 90 days.
Results: Thirteen women and six men with recurrent CDI were provided with microbiota transfer with orally administered capsules. The procedure was well tolerated. Thirteen individuals responded to a single course. Four patients were cured after a second course. There were 2 failures. The cumulative clinical cure rate of 89% is similar to the rates achieved with reported fecal-derived transplantation procedures.
Conclusions: Recurrent CDI represents a profound dysbiosis and a debilitating chronic disease. Stable cure can be achieved by restoring the gut microbiome with an effective, well-tolerated oral capsule treatment. This strategy of microbiota transfer can be widely applied and is particularly appropriate for frail patients.