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Stomach Infections May Soon Be Thwarted By This Pill, Which Is Full Of Poop

A stomach infection caused by a debilitating bacterial infection, which kills 14,000 Americans annually, is destroyed by a pill filled with poop.

Posted on October 8, 2013, at 12:01 p.m. ET

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.

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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.

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Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, holds a container of stool pills in triple-coated gel capsules in his lab on Sept. 26. Triple. Coated.

Besides the fatal cases, the bacterial infection causes diarrhea and fever in 500,000 people in the U.S. annually.

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It's traditionally been treated by fecal transplants, "delivering donor feces filled with healthy microbes via enemas, colonoscopies or nasal tubes that run directly to the gut," according to Nature.

These poop treatments work by introducing healthy, "good" bacteria to combat the "bad" bacteria and restore balance to the body.

This sort of disgusting photo of poop pills being made is a window into the problem of commercializing them for consumer use.

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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."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.