Starter Questions:

What is the relationship between antibiotic use in children and later obesity?

How important is the microbiome between mother and newborn child?

What is the relationship between the microbiome and antibiotic resistance?

Should fecal microbiota transplants to counter Clostridium difficile infection (or antibiotic-associated diarrhea) be regulated like a drug?

Excessive cleanliness found to increase antimicrobial resistance

Researchers at the Graz University of Technology have found that, in a hospital setting, excessively clean areas with low microbial diversity display higher rates of antibiotic resistance. Areas such as the industrially used clean rooms and intensive care unit displayed the higher levels of antimicrobial resistance, compared to areas with greater microbial diversity. Conversely, the results show that maintaining stable microbial diversity could counteract the spread of antibiotic resistance in clinical areas. As a result, researchers conclude that measures such as the reduction of antimicrobial cleaning agents, houseplants, regular airing, and the use of beneficial microorganisms could increase microbial diversity, slowing antimicrobial resistance.

Source: Nature

Drug companies seek rights to fecal microbiota transplants

Fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) have shown promise in treating Clostridium difficile colitis, a serious bacterial infection afflicting half a million Americans each year, often following antibiotic treatment. The procedure involves the transfer of healthy fecal matter from donors to the bowels of patients suffering from this bacterial infection. The FDA had issued a draft decision to regulate these procedures as a drug. While ensuring quality control over FMTs, such a regulatory approach also risks placing control as well as pricing over the procedure into the hands of drug companies. Forty leading physicians in infectious diseases and gastroenterology have written to urge the FDA not to classify fecal microbiota transplants as a drug. With the potential to fight a multitude of ailments, from diabetes to cancer, fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) are currently unclassified, being neither a drug nor an organ transplant. As such, this battle of classification could determine the regulatory approval pathway and intellectual property ownership, as well as the costs of the treatment. Insurers are awaiting the FDA’s decision before making a coverage determination on this procedure.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, Food and Drug Administration