A group of Auckland scientists who examined results from studies on faecal transplants believe they have found that the poo of so-called “super-donors” produces substantially better than average results.

Faecal transplants by these donors could be used to treat intestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and perhaps even help prevent Alzheimer’s and cancer, researchers led by Justin O’Sullivan of the University of Auckland-based Liggins Institute said in a statement on Tuesday.

The transplants, which see the transfer of faeces from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract of the receiving patient, are used to treat recurrent diarrhoeal infections.

Trials for other conditions, however, produced mixed results, with researchers often finding some donors producing stool which lead to remarkably better clinical improvement than others in the same trials.

“We see transplants from super-donors achieve clinical remission rates of perhaps double the remaining average,” O’Sullivan explained.

These “super-donors” provided the necessary bacteria to restore gut chemicals that are lacking in illnesses like inflammatory bowels disease and diabetes, the new review published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology on Monday showed.

With Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, cancers, asthma, allergies and heart disease having associations with changes in gut bacteria, understanding what makes a faecal super donor could make poo the new panacea, he said. 

The researchers hope to find out what makes “super-donors” and recommend that future faecal transplant trials routinely record information on the genetic background and dietary intake of recipients “so that we can better understand their impact on transplant engagement and clinical remission,” O’Sullivan said.