Nav: Home

Nonpathogenic viruses transferred during fecal transplants

March 29, 2016

Washington, DC - March 29, 2016 - Communities of viruses can be transferred during fecal transplants, according to a study published this week in mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Fortunately for patients who use this procedure, the viruses found to be transmitted in this study appear to be harmless to humans.

Fecal transplants are widely used for treating refractory Clostridium difficile infection, offering more than a 90% cure rate. The procedure is being tried for other gastrointestinal ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. During a fecal transplant, stool collected from a donor who has a healthy gastrointestinal tract is mixed with a solution (often saline), and then placed by colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidsocopy, or enema into a patient with a gastrointestinal ailment. This transfers potentially "good" bacteria into a patient. Similar to blood donations, the donating candidate is tested for high-risk viruses such as HIV.

"Fecal transplants are widely used in medicine now and they work, but you might ask what viruses are moved along with the desirable bacteria?" said principal investigator of the new study, Frederic Bushman, PhD, chair of the Department of Microbiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. "The donors are screened very extensively for GI diseases and other infectious diseases, however you worry about the unknown unknowns, infectious agents that might be bad, but not screened for."

In the new study, the researchers analyzed the fecal transplants from a single, healthy donor to three children with chronic ulcerative colitis. The children received intensive treatment, a course of 22 to 30 transplants. The researchers purified viral particles from the poop of the donor and the recipients and conducted deep genomic sequencing to determine whether any viruses were transferred.

"We could see bacterial viruses moving between humans and we were able to learn some things about transmission, but we did not see any viruses that grow on animal cells that may be of concern for infecting and harming patients," said Dr. Bushman. "We saw mostly temperate bacteriophages."

A temperate virus does not always cause immediate lysis following entry to a host, but can adopt a latent state, replicating its genome along with the host's genome after integration. These latent viruses can induce during times of stress, burst the cell, and liberate new viral particles into the environment. Some temperate bacteriophages can be of medical concern, such as ones that carry toxin genes or contribute to antibiotic resistance, but they are much less of a concern than animal cell viruses.

Temperate phages appeared to be transferred preferentially during fecal transplants. "We speculate that the temperate replication style exists, in part, to promote virus dispersal, to allow viruses to reach new environments where they can flourish," said Dr. Bushman.
-end-
The full study can be read online at: http://mbio.asm.org/content/7/2/e00322-16.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 47,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

American Society for Microbiology

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Detecting bacteria in space
A new genomic approach provides a glimpse into the diverse bacterial ecosystem on the International Space Station.
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
Bacteria walk (a bit) like we do
EPFL biophysicists have been able to directly study the way bacteria move on surfaces, revealing a molecular machinery reminiscent of motor reflexes.
Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria
Engineers have created a bacteria-filtering membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose.
Probiotics are not always 'good bacteria'
Researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering were able to shed light on a part of the human body - the digestive system -- where many questions remain unanswered.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab