Taiwan launches its first gut microbiota laboratory

09/05/2019 12:08 PM
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A patient, surnamed Tsao (right), had successfully undergone gut microbiota therapy.
A patient, surnamed Tsao (right), had successfully undergone gut microbiota therapy.

Taipei, Sept. 5 (CNA) Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) launched Taiwan's first dedicated gut microbiota laboratory Wednesday, in a bid to develop new therapies for patients with infections that cause diarrhea.

According to the hospital, the laboratory is expected to store at least 100 fecal samples to study gut microbiota, which could contribute to the treatment of Clostridium difficile-- a bacteria that can cause healthcare-associated diarrhea-- as well as autism, Parkinson's disease, allergies, diabetes and other diseases.

Hou Ming-chi (侯明志), director of the Medicine Department at the hospital, told the media Wednesday that while Clostridium difficile is found in the gut of about two to three in every 1,000 people, only 2 percent develop Clostridium difficile infection.

Symptoms can range from diarrhea to life-threatening Sepsis, Hou said. Infection with Clostridium difficile most commonly occurs in people who have received antibiotic treatment for a long time or have used antacids, he said, adding that older people and people who have a weak immune system are more prone to the infection.

In the past, Hou said, patients with Clostridium difficile infection were treated with antibiotics, but the recurrence rate for Clostridium difficile infection has been high, and the overall rate of mortality among Clostridium difficile hospitalizations is as high as 30 percent within 30 days of diagnosis.

To treat patients with Clostridium difficile infection, researchers in the United States have implanted gut microbiota extracted from healthy individuals' fecal samples into the intestines of the patients, so as to restore the balance of bacteria.

To ensure the quality of gut microbiota, the hospital said it only receives fecal samples from individuals who are under 65, with body mass index -- a measure of body fat based on height and weight -- lower than 25 and with no history of diabetes or hepatitis.

A donor cannot donate if he or she has traveled overseas or has used antibiotics within three months, according to the hospital.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Chung Yu-chen)


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