US-based OpenBiome is a non-profit stool bank and research platform dedicated to expanding safe access to faecal transplantation for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection and catalysing research into the human microbiome.
How they’re disrupting
C. difficile, the most common hospital-acquired infection in the U.S., affects half a million Americans every year and causes 29,000 deaths. For the 1 in 5 patients who do not respond to antibiotics, Feacal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) can represent a promising therapy, yielding up to a 90% success rate. Though this therapy dates back to the 1950s, it has only recently emerged to the forefront of medical care and scientific research. With 7 billion people producing waste, those with a healthy gut can provide ‘good’ microbes recovered from their faeces to those who lack them, preventing disease.
1 in 5 C. difficile sufferer’s have an antibiotic-resistant form of the infection. 600 million obese people globally.
Investments and future
OpenBiome, fueled by private charitable donations, is already treating about 150 people a week for antibiotic-resistant C. difficile infection, and has facilitated over 12,000 feacal transplants worldwide. A clinical trial was launched in March 2016 to study the impact of gut bacteria on weight as a result of recent scientific evidence which suggest FMT might be able to play a role in treating obesity. By introducing ‘lean faecal microbes’ into the gut, there is the potential to reduce that person’s propensity to obesity.