The Straight Poop


A freezer full of donated poop at OpenBiome

For one disease, poop — yes, human poop — is nothing short a miracle cure. Microbiologist Christina Agapakis takes a look at Fecal Microbiota Transplants or FMT and what happens when you take the really complex gut microbiome from a healthy person and transplant it into the gut of a really sick person. For patients suffering from a one of the most common and deadly hospital acquired infections, Clostridium Difficile, or C Diff, one poop transplant can cure them, sometimes within hours. But, why?

Inside the Episode:


Mark Smith shows host Christina Agapakis and
producer Kerry Donahue the container
donors, uh…”donate” in.

Sign on the door at OpenBiome,
reminding us of the importance of poop!

Christina visits Mark Smith at OpenBiome in Medford, Massachusetts. OpenBiome is a poop bank where donors are paid $40 bucks a po(o)p and where scientists like Mark produce highly screened, liquefied poop samples to be sent to doctors and hospitals all over the country.

Christina talks with Ed Yong, blogger at Not Exactly Rocket Science and author of a forthcoming book about microbes called I Contain Multitudes, about what we might be failing to ask in all of the excitement surrounding FMT.

Christina also talks with Tami Lieberman, a systems biologist at Harvard who decided to put some new home sampling kits for sequencing your gut microbiome to the test.

It’s a wild and wooly world out there when it comes to the medical power of poop. Who knew? Stay tuned.

This episode was produced by Kerry Donahue and Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and mixed by David Herman. Photos by Genevieve Sponsler.

Music credits:
Mort Garson: “Good Morning Starshine” from Electronic Hair Pieces
Anna Meredith: “Bubble Gun” from Jet Black Raider
Piero Piccioni: “Mexican Borders” from Piero Piccioni Soundtracks
Four Tet: “As Serious As Your Life” from Rounds
Hauschka: “Cube” from Salon des amateurs
Laurie Spiegel: “Patchwork” from The Expanding Universe

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