Microbiota

Predicting fecal transplant success

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Science  16 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6381, pp. 1228
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6381.1228-b

Consumption of fecal matter is taboo, unless you have a life-threatening disease, such as Clostridium difficile infection. In these cases, fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is extraordinarily effective at restoring gut function to a healthier state. However, FMT does not work so well for other indications that are less strongly associated with the microbiota. We have a weak understanding of what factors allow microbial engraftment in the gut. Smillie et al. took genomic data from FMT-treated C. difficile patients to build a machine-learning statistical model that tells us which bacterial strains will engraft. The main predictive factors are abundance of a strain in the donor and the species present in the patient. Donor strains whose species are also present in the patient always engraft. If the taxa are discordant, then it appears that microbial interactions prevent engraftment.

Cell Host Microbe 10.1016/j.chom.2018.01.003 (2018).

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