UBC research benefits fibre digestion
New UBC research could result in new forms of treatment for those with fibre digestion problems. (FILE PHOTO)
The idea of injecting someone else’s feces into a patient with fibre-digestion problems may soon be obsolete, according to a University of B.C. research author.
Michael Smith Laboratories professor Harry Brumer said Monday the so-called poop injection has been, to date, a “crude” way of fixing fibre-digestion problems,
Through that method, a healthy person’s feces — containing bacteria that helps break down fibers — is injected into a patient whose own bacteria has been weakened by antibiotics or disease.
“(But) what happens if the person, who’s a donor, has a virus?” Brumer said. “It has a lot of problems with respect to infection and, you can imagine, that’s a good way to transmit diseases.”
Thankfully, according to his research, scientists have now identified the gene sequence that makes the fibre-digesting bacteria tick — and this could pave the way to pill-based treatment without involving feces.
“Eventually this sort of research can develop treatments for bacterial infection … as well as some of these chronic inflammatory bowel diseases,” Brumer said.
Fibres have traditionally been difficult for humans to digest, he noted, as our bodies are designed to break down starches and not the complex carbohydrates present in fruits and vegetables. However, it’s responsible for about 10% of the average daily caloric intake.