Inspired by fecal transplantation, an American team of scientists wants to develop vaginal microbiota transplantation. For what? Help women with bacterial vaginosis.
What is bacterial vaginosis?
15 to 20% of French women have already had bacterial vaginosis. And you may have already suffered from it.
It is a very common vaginal infection related to dysbiosis of the vaginal microbiota. It is contracted especially when the vaginal pH becomes too alkaline. This multi-microbial infection is characterised by the significant growth of bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis for example, to the detriment of the beneficial bacteria constituting the vaginal microbiota. Often without any symptoms – and hence overlooked – bacterial vaginosis can progress and cause discomfort, with itching and an unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge. It is possible to treat with antibiotics, however it can be recurrent.
To learn more about vaginal microbiota and intimate infections.
The beginnings of a promising idea
For several years, fecal microbiota transplantation has shown convincing results on the rebalancing of the intestinal microbiota. Based on these data, American scientists decided to transpose this idea to the intimate sphere with vaginal microbiota transplantation. Similarly: if stool transplants help restore a healthy intestinal microbiota, vaginal bacteria transplants could help restore a healthy vaginal microbiota. This would help find a durable solution to avoid bacterial vaginosis.
By the way, what is a healthy vaginal microbiota? To answer, the researchers tested the vaginal microbiota of 20 women aged 25 to 35 years to establish the ideal vaginal bacterial profile. As a result, samples containing a large amount of Lactobacillus crispatus appear to be the best. Indeed, they have a higher lactic acid content, a lower pH and are more resistant to infections.
An upcoming clinical study on vaginal microbiota transplants
Since the donor profile is established, researchers are able to test their hypothesis. The project has been approved by US health authorities to go forward. A clinical trial should be launched on 40 women with bacterial vaginosis. Volunteers will receive either a healthy microbiota donation or a placebo. Donors should refrain from having intimate relationships for at least 30 days prior to collection. To avoid any form of contamination, women will be screened for any STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), including HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The donation will be by self-sampling using a flexible plastic disc.
In conclusion, this promising lead could help many women susceptible to vaginal infections. We stay in alert to give you the results. To be continued…
DELONG K, BENSOUDA S, ZULFIGAR F, ZIERDEN HC, HOANG TM, ABRAHAM AG, COLEMAN JS, CONE RA, GRAVITT PE, HENDRIX CW, FUSCHS EJ, GAYDOS CA, WELD ED, ENSIGN LM. Conceptual design of a universal donor screening approach for vaginal microbiota transplant. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2019, 9:306