University of Minnesota

Microbiota in Health and Medicine

The human body is colonized by highly specialized and organized microbial communities along all its surfaces.

These microbial communities, called the body’s microbiota, are integral to human physiology and health, important in energy metabolism, and critical to the development and maintenance of the immune system. Research suggests that an altered composition and activity of the microbiota caused by our society’s exposure to antibiotics and altered diet provide at least partial explanation for the problems of autoimmunity, allergies, diabetes, and many other once rare diseases that have recently become much more commonplace.

Microbiota Therapeutics

Microbiota Therapeutics is a new way to treat diseases caused by loss or alteration of critical and essential microorganisms in a variety of host locations. Regardless of the disease, this involves replacement of the non-functioning microbiota (causing what we term dysbiosis) with microrganisms from a healthy individual that are unique for that body site.

For C. difficile infection, the University of Minnesota Microbiota Therapeutics Program (MTP) manufactures microbiota from healthy donor stool donations. While blood donation is long-established in medicine, stool donation is still novel. However, stool donation can save lives, and has the potential to save more lives than any other tissue donation!

Clostridium difficile

The UMN program is one of the leading centers in the United States in treating refractory C. difficile infection.

Approximately 280 patients with refractory C. difficile infection were treated at the University between 2009 and 2014. These patients failed all antibiotic treatments to eradicate the infection. They recovered after Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT). [Read More…]

Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity

Intestinal microbiota participate in all aspects of energy metabolism: intake, harvest, storage, and distribution. Our society’s exposure to antibiotics and processed foods may have altered the composition of microbiota, which might be contributing to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The MTP is working on an interventional clinical trial using Fecal Microbiota Transplantation to improve insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetic patients and treat metabolic syndrome. This transdisciplinary project combines work in brain science, nutrition, and microbiome research. [Read More…]

Additional Treatment Areas

Microbiota Therapeutics has wide ranging applications for the treatment of a variety of health concerns including many currently under investigation at the University of Minnesota, including Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BMT), Cystic Fibrosis (CF), and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). [Read More…]

Donor Recruitment

Donor recruitment remains an area of great need for the program. Potential donors undergo a rigorous qualifying examination, and are tested for infectious disease and other problems, e.g., diabetes. Donors have to be completely healthy, i.e., cannot be obese, take prescription medications, have food intolerances, have problems with autoimmunity or allergic/atopic disease. [Read More...]