Interest in the microbiome has exploded in recent years, and the intestinal microbiome is increasingly recognized as being important in maintaining health and to play a role in several diseases. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), delivery of stool from a healthy donor into a patient, is being used to restore normal gut flora and address different diseases.
Although FMT is considered experimental, the concept originated in China in the 4th century where it was used to treat food poisoning, severe diarrhea, and later abdominal diseases. Today it is considered an effective treatment against Clostridium difficile infection and ulcerative colitis, and is being explored as a potential treatment for autoimmune disorders, neurological conditions, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
OpenBiome is a nonprofit stool bank working to make FMT easier, cheaper, safer and more widely available. They provide hospitals and licensed medical doctors with donated and screened frozen material ready for clinical use, so that clinicians can focus on providing care and conducting research instead of processing stool preparations and filing paperwork. With their focus to minimize the cost of FMT, they only charge to recover the cost associated with donor screening, lab management and material processing. Today, they provide microbiota preparations to over 500 healthcare institutions across the US and Europe, and sponsor and support research investigating the impact of FMT on different diseases.
The organization was founded by a team of doctors and scientists after a close friend contracted a C. difficile infection. They watched him suffer and several rounds of antibiotic treatments failed. They knew that evidence supported FTM, but could not find a clinician to perform the treatment for him. After finally receiving a transplant, he had his life back within a few days. Motivated by the frustration of watching a close friend struggle to access effective treatment, they founded OpenBiome.
The story and passion behind the organization, and their to engagement to change healthcare, make OpenBiome unique. They develop and deliver a product with huge potential as treatment for a wide variety of diseases, yet their focus is on making it more available for the lowest possible price. And for patients who cannot afford the treatment, the organization has set up a pro bono fund generously funded by the Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation. Now that's admirable!
If you are interested in becoming a donor, visit their website to read more about the requirements and the screening process.