Would you eat someone else’s poop to lose weight?
A group of 21 obese participants in a new clinical trial will do exactly that – except the feces is frozen and encapsulated.
The randomized placebo-controlled trial led by assistant professor at Massachusetts General Hospital Elaine W. Yu provides the subjects with poop pills from healthy, lean donors once a week for six weeks to study the effects on body weight and insulin sensitivity.
According to Yu, the 1-cm. pills are “odorless, tasteless, double-encapsulated” and come from donors who are vetted and approved by the FDA.
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“The donors go through a screening process that is more rigorous than what is required for blood donation,” she tells PEOPLE. “Donors must meet strict weight criteria and are screened for medical, infectious and metabolic disorders.”
Yu’s trial – which will begin in March and continue to track participants weight over 12 weeks – is not the first to experiment with fecal transplants. In an earlier study, the transfer of gut bacteria from lean donors into mice induced weight loss and prevented obesity.
The scientist also sites an earlier study on humans in the Netherlands that resulted in improvements in insulin sensitivity – but that study delivered the fecal matter endoscopically as opposed to in pill form.
Though Yu admits “much more work would need to be done” if the results are positive, she hopes that this could “eventually lead to more targeted therapies for obesity and other metabolic disorders such as diabetes.”