Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
First, a quick summary: the good news is that the first human trial was just conducted using fecal microbiome transplant (FMT) to treat obesity. The bad news is that the treatment did not result in either weight loss or changes in the hormone, GLP1, which is involved in feelings of satiety (feeling full).[i]
There is more mixed news though so some more details for you:
22 obese, but otherwise healthy, adults took part. For 12 weeks, half of them took a daily capsule of microbes from thin people, while the other half took a placebo. On the good news front, the treatment proved safe.
Also more good news: “The overall microbial makeup of the treatment group did become more similar to that of the lean donors, and a specific decrease in a type of bile acid was particularly noted.” Remember – there is unlikely to be one cause of this epidemic, as I’ve been writing about. The lead author of the study states, in fact, “The bile acid data is certainly intriguing and suggests that maybe there are one or more different pathways at play…Obesity is a very complex disorder, and a multifactorial process is probably at the heart of its development.”
The actual paper has not yet been published, as it’s preliminary results are just being presented at a conference. I cannot, therefore, as yet comment on their methodology and so forth. For example, what were the people eating during the study? In fairness (and to be silly for a moment while making a valid point): if the adults in the experiment group continued to eat 10,000 calories a day while sitting on the couch watching TV, I don’t care what kind of capsules they were taking. I find it impossible to believe anyone could lose weight under those circumstances.
Still…this is a step forward. I am always happy to be able to report to you actual human trials. I do believe that someday in the future, FMT (purified microbiota from healthy donors, given via oral capsules) will become a treatment norm. In fact, I recently posted the news (on my Biome Buzz Facebook page) that the autism trials have been so successful that the FDA is fast-tracking the treatment for that population.
I will, of course, continue to keep an eye on all this research!