Clostridium difficile bacteria is a serious killer — a stomach infection linked to the deaths of 14,000 Americans each year. But it may have finally met its match in a pill filled with poop.
This is the wonder pill. The delivery method is known as "gut microbiome transplants," and after a test, 30 of 31 patients treated were cured, according to Nature, a science journal.
Besides the fatal cases, the bacterial infection causes diarrhea and fever in 500,000 people in the U.S. annually.
This sort of disgusting photo of poop pills being made is a window into the problem of commercializing them for consumer use.
The team spent two years assembling the equipment to get the bacteria up and running, but the process is still expensive and the bacteria finicky.
The high cost of producing bacteria in this way would be less of a barrier if the alternative were not so cheap. As Tom Moore, a physician and infectious-disease specialist in Wichita, Kansas, puts it: "It'll be difficult to compete with the ready availability and very cheap costs of human poop."
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.