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TRENDING SCIENCE: How about storing your stools in a bank? An older you may thank you someday

Banking samples of your own stools could hold the secret to a healthy life in the future, suggest scientists.

Fundamental Research

You’re headed to the bank to make a deposit. What’s so abnormal about that, you ask? Well, this bank isn’t like the others, nor is the deposit you’ll be making. The deposit is, uh, your faeces, just in case you later need to make a … withdrawal. Think of it as a new development in storage practices that include egg freezing and cord blood banking. According to a paper published by Harvard Medical School researchers in the journal ‘Trends in Molecular Medicine’, people could bank their faecal matter when they’re young and healthy so that it can be transplanted back into their system later on in life when health begins to decline. Collecting our stinky samples that contain good bacteria could treat several maladies that show up as we age. The way we eat and live nowadays has led to major changes in our gut microbiome that is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. The gut microbiome is key to our health by helping to control digestion and benefiting our immune system and many other facets of health. These changes have been linked to various medical conditions.

Banking on stools

The concept is based on existing evidence on a procedure for reusing our own stools called autologous faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). The research team suggested that autologous FMTs could revitalise the microbiome in later years. “Autologous faecal microbiota transplant have [sic] the potential to treat autoimmune diseases like asthma, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease and aging,” co-author and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School Yang-Yu Liu told ‘MailOnline’. “We expect that autologous FMT [stool samples collected from the host at a younger and healthier age] may be a more powerful therapeutic approach to promote healthy aging of the host than heterologous FMT [stool samples collected from an unrelated young and healthy donor],” Dr Liu explained to ‘United Press International’. “It is our opinion that it would be wise to bank human stool samples at a younger age when individuals are disease-free to potentially rejuvenate the human gut microbiome using autologous FMT when the individuals age,” the authors wrote in the paper.

Can’t escape those darned fees!

There are several ways to transplant the stool. It can be ingested in capsules, rectally by enema or given during a colonoscopy. Collection, processing and storage won’t come cheap. It’s a lot more expensive than the service charges you pay for online banking. The bank needs a lot of space and energy to operate the freezers. “We do not anticipate that all individuals in our society are willing to pay the cost,” Dr Liu added. “Developing a reasonable business model and marketing strategy would certainly require the joint force of entrepreneurs and scientists.” Many stool banks have already opened around the world. But the transplants usually involve the transfer of faecal microbiota from one person to another. The researchers envision a future where facilities store individual samples for the donor’s own use. So, will you be depositing at the stool bank? Your gut could be thanking you when you’re old and grumpy.

Keywords

stool, bank, gut microbiome, gut, microbiome, faeces, autologous faecal microbiota transplantation