This Week in Health Sciences

As a public service to my busy readers, I have decided to start a regular column summarizing recent breakthroughs and discoveries in the health sciences area.

New Treatment for C. difficile

Earlier this month, Canadian doctors announced a new treatment for patients suffering from Clostridium difficile. More commonly known as C. difficile, it’s a superbug that often occurs in hospital settings and has been responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in Quebec in recent years. In severe cases, the bug releases a toxin that can lead to months of severe diarrhea.

According to Dr. Louis Francescutti, of the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, there is now a cheap and effective treatment for patients.

It’s called a fecal transplant.

A close relative of the patient collects his / her healthy feces for a period of around five days and brings it to the doctor, preferably in an airtight container. The fetid donation is then combined with saline, shaken (not stirred), and the frothy mixture is pumped into the patient’s colon. The donated fecal matter contains healthy bacteria, which bloom inside the patient’s digestive track and fight off the infection. It has proven to be remarkably effective, and often only requires one treatment (thankfully).

Despite its effectiveness, the treatment has not been widely accepted in Canada’s medical community. When asked why he wouldn’t perform the procedure, one doctor stated, “Umm, because that’s really gross. I did not spend six years in medical school so I could spend my day whipping up fecal shakes.”

Personally, I think the treatment suffers from poor branding. Consumers these days need a catchy name, and anything with the word “fecal” in its name is just not going to sell. Human probiotic infusion, or HPI, is way better – it’s even an anagram of ‘hip’. Design a cute mascot, sponsor some tailgate parties, get Brad Pitt to be a celebrity endorser, and I guarantee you’ll be seeing a lot more HPI’s in the future.

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