Widespread antibiotic resistance is one of the major problems facing America today. It happens when our bodies become resistant to the effects of a specific antibiotic (or antibiotics) over time because of misuse or overuse of those drugs—and many experts worry that our dependence on antibiotics—as well as our obsession with antibacterial products—may lead to the development of more and more dangerous “superbugs” that don’t respond to normal antibiotic treatment.
The good news? Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York may be one step closer to kicking those superbugs to the curb. In a study involving mice, Dr. Eric Pamer and his team recently discovered that fecal transplants were effective at eliminating two of the nastiest types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria seen most often in hospitals today: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) and multi-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumonia.
While fecal transplantation is a relatively new concept, already it has been used successfully to treat some types of intestinal infections in humans. In this particular study, researchers wanted to see if the method could not only eliminate harmful bacteria but also help prevent further colonization. Based on their findings, transplanting gut bacteria from healthy mice into those infected with VRE and K. pneumoniae was indeed able to wipe out both types of bacteria and help thwart future growth in the gut.
Though additional research is needed to see if the positive results can be sustained over time, Dr. Pamer and his colleagues are positive about the potential for humans. Nowadays most experts recommend taking antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and always completing the prescribed dose. Taking a daily probiotic supplement may also help strengthen the body’s natural defense system, the majority of which is found in the gut.‡