Might want to put down your sandwich while you read this one: Clostridium difficile, an infection of the intestines associated with terrible cases of diarrhea, is linked to some 14,000 American deaths each year. But researchers have found a promising treatment in the form of fecal transplants, in which a sample of a healthy person's stool is transplanted into a sick person's digestive system. Researchers have conducted the process using a tube that goes through the nose and into the small intestine, but now, they may have a simpler solution, the Los Angeles Times reports: frozen poop pills.
Subjects in an earlier study received relatives' fresh stool samples, packed into capsules; 31 of 32 patients were treated successfully, researchers say. But when a patient needs immediate treatment, stool samples aren't always available—so in new research, scientists tried freezing the stuff. It was screened for disease and kept for a month before being placed in capsules; each held 1.6 grams of poop. The results: 90% of subjects experienced "clinical resolution of diarrhea." It would have been great if the pills could have been colored, like Tylenol, says a researcher; instead, they have to be acid-resistant, and acid-resistant pills are always transparent, NPR reports. But "fortunately ... when you take them out of the freezer, they sort of frost up a bit and they're not too gross," the researcher says. (In other poop-related research, scientists have learned a lot from ancient feces.)