The success of faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) in restoring bacterial diversity has prompted interest in the potential use of transplanted human material as a therapy for a wide range of diseases, and researchers in the United States have now taken the first step towards trials of vaginal microbiota transplantation (VMT) to treat bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Researchers at Johns Hopkins theorise that transplanted vaginal fluids from healthy donors could provide, what they consider, the first fully restorative, curative treatment for BV and have designed a universal screening approach for VMT donors, which would be needed to precede any trials in this area.
This universal donor screening approach, which is described in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, was implemented in a small pilot study of 20 women aged 23-35 years and included a medical questionnaire and clinical and laboratory testing. As well as checking for exposure to sexually transmitted and other infections, analysis of the samples allowed the team to correlate vaginal bacterial community structure with function.
"We anticipate that the trajectory of VMT will likely follow that of faecal transplantation, with efforts to cultivate uniform, standardised transplants that have similar therapeutic efficacy to donor material," said co-author Dr Laura Ensign.