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Anarchy Begins With Eating Shit: How Does the FDA Regulate DIY Fecal Transplants?

The title is a takeoff on my 9-Part “Anarchy Begins at Home” series, as well as my 20min AHS12 Presentation at Harvard U: Paleo Epistemology and Sociology… I was cleaning up my draft folder this morning (19 posts in some state of draft) and came across this nearly finished one from last February that never got tidied up and published. It’s a hit & run rant that names names, my stock in trade.

It’s only coincidental that this news report comes out of Cambridge, MA: Cambridge stool bank helps meet growing need for fecal transplants. I’m sitting here typing but still don’t even know whether I want to go all out with “the standard treatment,” or just show you enough to laf at, and let you connect the dots yourselves. Let’s just see how it goes…

A nose-wrinkling procedure to use human feces to treat a serious gut infection gained worldwide attention a year ago, when a top medical journal published a study showing just how effective it was when compared to routine antibiotic treatment. In the meantime, regulators have been wrestling with what sort of oversight should be used on this scatological treatment.

“regulators have been wrestling”

Any mud, or Frankenfats involved? I.e., watered-down dirt, or Crisco? Bikinis? Blond hair and D-cups, perhaps? Incompetent wresting, but not the point?

…Don’t you just love the way journalists like Carolyn Y. Johnson are taught to use aggressive metaphor whenever writing about Kings, Queens, and their Parliament of Whores? Wrestling. Deep. Cuts. Slash. To the Bone. Chopped. Attack. Defend. Did I miss anything? I’m sure I have.

A group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University proposed Wednesday that fecal transplants be regulated similarly to tissue or blood.

But we’re talking shit pills, here. See, trailer trash aren’t about to DIY organ transplants or blood transfusions—stupidity does have its limits. But hell, what’s a shit-smoothie enema, amongst friends? …Yes, I know. They’re proposing less regulation than the FDA has in mind or is currently enforcing. Give them a Gold Star? Read on.

In fecal transplants, a slurry of feces containing the gut bacteria from a healthy donor are implanted into the intestine, either through a nasal tube or a procedure similar to a colonoscopy. Official guidelines about how to screen donors and ensure samples are safe will help bring clarity and uniformity to a field that has become something of a Wild West. Researchers are concerned because YouTube videos now offer guidance on DIY fecal transplants for at-home use, and misinformation is abundant. The team that wrote the study has received questions from people suffering from gastrointestinal infections who wonder whether their pets could be used as donors. (They cannot.)

“clarity and uniformity” … “something of a Wild West”

Forgive young Carolyn her erroneous ”Wild West” use—intended for similarly situated (yep, see, I left a favored metaphor out!). I’m just wondering how to unpack the reality of people eating, digesting and shitting well…then giving their shit to someone who eats well, but shitting is a long-term chronic burden (are acute runny shiters—as in: after a night on the town—really going to be interested? I think not.).

Maybe a DIY transplant helps, maybe it doesn’t; but where does “clarity and uniformity” come in? Do we have “uniform” toilets to  where the shit doesn’t just drop six inches, but is rather scooped up and sequestered in a federal government facility as toxic waste until cleared by “authorities” (imagine the job title)? Is “clarity” going to be accomplished by a FedCo camera in every shitstall, ensuring under 24/7 surveillance that you don’t come up with a way to sequester your shit for a friend in need?

“Researchers are concerned”

Oh, that’s big “news.” There’s nothing more certain in terms of reading someone, than the person who always smiles no matter what. Second: anyone ever who regularly uses the word “concerned” when it isn’t about themselves—which is superfluous anyway—or about a family member or a close friend: I know they’re fucking lying 100% of the time and I look for it because I fucking hate liars. In the media, having to do with politics and public policy, it’s a dirty lie 1000% of the time and exposes them as predators and frauds looking for your obedience, adulation, sanction, and what you have in your pocket book—but using the word so you just give it up. Clever pickpocketing. “Concerned.” No, that’s a fraud because they’re not concerned: it’s none of their business—“it’s none of your concern!”—and to utter the word means they’re running a scam, a fraud, every time. Right, Carolyn? So what’s your scam? Promotion?

In what way is that not their own projection into private matters that are none of their business, as always and forever? And incidentally? “Concerned,” in this context, is euphemism for losing edge, influence and absolute authority. I believe them, but their concern is for themselves, and not the 500,000 people who get sick annually from C. dificile, with 250,000 people hospitalized, and 15,000 deaths—most typically infected after a round of government antibiotics that kill off the beneficial gut bacteria that microbiotic-prescision-antibiotic-manufacturers have kept at bay forever (along with E. coli—most of you have both in you all the time).

These precision microscopic chemical plants have been evolving for 3.5 billion years and on average, go through 6 generations per day. That’s 10^(lots of fucking zeros), juxtaposed to about 80,000 for homo and 5,000 for genus Sapiens.

“YouTube videos now offer guidance on DIY fecal transplants for at-home use, and misinformation is abundant”

That’s why I always watch and/or read a bunch of stuff and synthesize, from cooking a dish to setting tile. C’mon, “researchers,” you just want to control this, just like any drug. But: you’re dealing with shit! Everybody is a manufacturer, and it’s not even limited to assholes. You guys ought know all about shit coming out of mouths.

“received questions from people suffering from gastrointestinal infections who wonder whether their pets could be used as donors. (They cannot.)”

Ah, the just-so parenthetical. Tsk tsk, Carolyn. Has it actually been tested clinically? Various body parts from animals have proven useful for humans—heart valves from pigs, if I recall without using Google. Since body comp and physiology between pigs and humans is so similar (and increasingly so), seems to me that the gut flora from a rooting, feral pig just might be an interesting hypothesis for a translpant in humans.

The excitement about the successful use of fecal transplants to treat the gastrointestinal infection C. difficile has also led to a premature interest among the general public suffering from ailments for which it is completely unproven and untested.

“premature interest”

Oh, “premature.” What does that even mean? A debilitated DIYer who’s been the victim of your failures for years and decades is “premature” if he or she gets a bit excited about possibly getting relief from one of life’s hidden chronic suckers—because nobody likes to talk about it?

…Oh, wait, you were only talking about people being “interested”…”prematurely.” So, how to unpack that? What, a few more grant applications in the queue, ensuring another coupla decades of full employment at taxpayer expense, while the taxpayers are to remain uninterested while you take the time to wrangle everything and get all ducks in order, so as to be part of the white-coat brigade getting medals pinned on in The Rose Garden? Mark Smith?

“I have pretty serious concerns about this,” said Mark Smith, a graduate student in microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-wrote the paper published in Nature. “It’s an exciting area of research, but it’s not ready for every patient to get their hands on.”

Oh, wait! I’ve been premature! See, I assumed Mark Smith had his white coat already, two grant aplications and a half decade or so of taxpayer-funded full employment under his coat. Nope, I was wrong. It’s not that at all. Rather, he’s a “grant entrepreneur.” What a go-getter! Get an early start!

“but it’s not ready for every patient to get their hands on.”

So says Mark Smith, graduate student who co-wrote a paper. I’m sure it’s comforting to the 15,000 people who died of C. dificile last year, as well as the 250,000 with symptoms debilitating enough to require hospitalizaton.

I’m always curious about the implicit, though. Since that’s a direct quote, Mark Smith, to what extent are you willing to go to keep “hands [off]”? Huh? Simple question. Ready to invoke police? Guns? Jails? Fines? Separating violators from their friends and families? Life upheaval in financial terms that rivals the years and decades long suffering of that person having either to dig shit out of their butt mechanically every morning, or just another smoothy or on-tap shit?

I’m always amused. People invoke power of the state all the time, seemingly not realizing that if someone simply decides to resist even a parking ticket on principle, no matter what, the final penalty is death (that’s a post from 2004, 10 years ago, still heavily linked). It has to be. Ultimately, at some level, you have to comply. If you refuse absolutely, the state will kill you. The state really has only one law, fundamentally: absolute compliance. That realization ought to annoy anyone with a mind and one life to live.

Isn’t is great to sit in power, judgment, and authority, Mark Smith, holding the daily suffering of people in your tender, Massachusetts Institute of Technology hands?

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

10 Comments

  1. McSack on September 17, 2014 at 09:29

    Hey Richard. Reading these posts reminds me of a song that holds a lot of meaning for me. It may or may not be your thing, but if your willing to check it out I thought I would share a link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH6mKLqe4Yc

    It may take a few listenings for it to sink in, but it’s well worth it for the meditation.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 17, 2014 at 09:53

      Not my kinda gig, but the message is sound. If that’s the case, the delivery is simply rather subjective. Chocolate and vanilla is still fine. 🙂



  2. Travis on September 17, 2014 at 16:00

    From your groundbreaking post from 2004, “The Final Penalty is Death”.

    “You run to the car, and ignoring shouts of “HALT!…HALT!…HALT OR I’LL SHOOT!” you jump in the car, fire it up, and attempt to extricate yourself from the tow truck. The cop runs over and points a gun at you as you reach for the gun you keep next to you. BANG! You’re dead.”

    Congratulations, you’re an even bigger moron that I already thought. And that’s saying something.

    For someone who disdains police as much as you and wants them dead, you sure are ignorant of basic principles of police work. But then again, you are the straw man master…

  3. elmo on September 17, 2014 at 22:42

    just like the FCC wants to regulate the internet although they don’t have the authority and there is no need.

  4. Douglas on September 18, 2014 at 06:24

    “Maybe a DIY transplant helps, maybe it doesn’t; but where does “clarity and uniformity” come in? Do we have “uniform” toilets to where the shit doesn’t just drop six inches, but is rather scooped up and sequestered in a federal government facility as toxic waste until cleared by “authorities” (imagine the job title)? Is “clarity” going to be accomplished by a FedCo camera in every shitstall, ensuring under 24/7 surveillance that you don’t come up with a way to sequester your shit for a friend in need?”
    Richard – there actually toilets(expensive ones!) like that that exist in some airports to detect swallowing drug smugglers! They feed you bran muffins ad-nauseum to keep you shitting until a particular shade of lights comes on and then BINGO! They’ve found a nugget of something illegal in your poop! I shit you not…

  5. Anand+Srivastava on September 18, 2014 at 23:37

    The police must not be in central control. It must report to the local representatives of the people. Yes Representatives. These days with lobbying they end up being representatives of the corporation, and at worst are just part of the mob. The main problem being too much power at the center.

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