Study presents efficacy of vaginal fluid transplantation
A pilot study by Israeli researchers presented what may be a new cure for so-called bacterial vaginosis - an infection caused by bacteria that can cause, among other symptoms, inflammation, odor and abnormal vaginal discharge.
"Vaginal microbiota transplantation has the potential to revolutionize the way we view and treat conditions that affect the female reproductive tract, " said the scientists who organized the study.
The researchers followed up on five women, ages 27 to 47, who suffered from intractable cases of bacterial vaginosis and who had at least four symptoms of infection in the past year. They would look for candidates able to perform vaginal fluid transplantation.
All five patients were treated with microbial-loaded vaginal fluids collected from three rigorously selected donors. The three volunteers - aged 35 to 48 years - were rigorously selected and their fluids were found to suggest a healthy vaginal microbial community, typically dominated by Lactobacillus .
Transplant recipients were prepared with an intravaginal antibiotic regimen and only then the fluids were transplanted within 60 minutes of collection and the results obtained impressed the researchers.
Of the five recipients analyzed, four had complete long-term remission of bacterial vaginosis by the end of follow-up (lasting five to 21 months) after transplantation. There was a marked improvement in symptoms and the reconstitution of a vaginal microbiome more similar to those of donors, according to the genetic analysis performed.
Almost perfect healing
Only one recipient achieved partial cure due to a throat infection that required treatment with oral antibiotics, which caused the symptoms of BV to return. However, she was transplanted again and followed for almost seven months, and her vaginal microbial communities were found to be a mixture of her original and donor communities.
"Collectively, we report the feasibility of using vaginal fluid as a long-term treatment of unresponsive, untreatable infections, " the study authors concluded.
Researchers have proven the safety and benefits of transplantation, however, because it is a small study, the effectiveness of therapy has yet to be verified in larger, randomized, placebo-controlled studies.