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Biome Bank is Australia’s first public stool bank, established to treat debilitating bowel conditions and foster research into gut health.
Do you want to join our team? Check out current career opportunities here.
View some of the commonly asked questions about our organisation.
We are so grateful to those who donate their time and skills to support life-changing medical research. Find out more…
Get in touch with us here.
In a revolutionary and somewhat unique treatment, stool donated by healthy donors can be processed and stored in our stool bank until needed for a Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT).
FMT involves instilling faeces collected from a healthy person into the bowel of a person suffering from illness, so as to restore the healthy gut bacteria and treat the illness.
Scientific advances have discovered that the organisms that live in your gut, known as the gut microbiota, can have a major influence on your health and wellbeing. The foundation of our research is to modify the gut microbial environment using FMT in order to treat disease.
For patients with recurrent or refractory Clostridium difficile (C-diff) infection, trials have found FMT is effective in more than 90 percent of cases, effectively curing patients of the disease.
For patients with Ulcerative Colitis, early research has shown that FMT can settle flares of disease and induce remission. Another study is underway to prove remission can be maintained.
More studies are planned to see if FMT is successful in treating other diseases.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you live in South Australia, you can donate your healthy stool to help people living with these chronic and debilitating gut conditions.
You will help change lives!
Potential stool donors are asked to undergo a screening process. This involves a medical questionnaire and examination to ensure that you do not have any active medical problems. You will also have a blood test and stool test to screen for disease.
So get in touch with us and we’ll get you started!
BiomeBank is pioneering gut microbiome research in Australia. With an established safe stool bank to facilitate faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), we are changing the way bowel conditions are treated in the community.BiomeBank is currently undertaking a number of clinical trials to progress therapies in this area. Doctors, patients and researchers interested in this work are encouraged to contact us.
1) Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) as routine therapy for patients with Clostridium difficile (C-diff) infection Australia-wide.
For over five years, BiomeBank has been facilitating FMT as a trial therapy for C-diff patients within South Australia with a 90 percent success rate. We are now facilitating a national clinical trial to help all Australians with C-diff access our stool bank for FMT. We are doing so by creating a network of FMT Referral Centres in capital cities across Australia, so that safe FMT may be available to those in need.
2) FMT successfully maintaining remission in patients with Ulcerative Colitis.
An earlier study has proven FMT can induce remission in patients with active Ulcerative Colitis, healing bowel inflammation and reducing symptoms of diarrhea and passing blood in responders. Ulcerative Colitis is a lifelong disease so more research is needed to see if this can be maintained in the long-term.
3) Autologous (self) FMT for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
During cancer treatment, the antibiotics and chemotherapy people receive often depletes their gut microbiota, leading to complications such as diarrhea and increased risk of infections. This trial will investigate whether such complications can be reduced by harvesting stool from patients prior to antibiotics and chemotherapy, that is saved and stored and then re-administered into their bowel during or following their treatment.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Group, Basil Hetzel Institute
School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of Adelaide
The Hudson Institute
If you wish to support BiomeBank’s research into gut health and Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), you can do so by donating to The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF).
For every $1 you donate, THRF will provide over $5 back in grants to BiomeBank to help treat bowel disorders and foster research into gut health. This is because THRF’s administration costs are covered by its commercial business activities (such as its lottery program), which also boosts its funds to research and patient care each year.
You can feel proud knowing your donation makes an even bigger impact to the health and wellbeing of your community!
Support the first and only public stool bank in Australia and change lives!
Gastroenterologists Dr Sam Costello and Dr Rob Bryant are the pioneers behind BiomeBank, Australia’s first public stool bank.
BiomeBank was first established in 2013 to store and process stool to treat patients with Clostridium difficile (C-diff) infection via a Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT).
With the support of The Hospital Research Foundation, Dr Costello and Dr Bryant have built BiomeBank into a reputable and safe stool bank with the mission to provide donor stool to treat patients with bowel conditions and foster research into faecal transplant as a treatment for conditions affecting the Australian community.
Dr Sam Costello
Co-founder of BiomeBank
Dr Costello is a consultant gastroenterologist at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He undertook his PhD on FMT as a treatment for Ulcerative Colitis. Dr Costello has been an invited speaker at both Australian and international conferences and has a number of peer-reviewed publications with a particular focus on the gut microbiome and FMT. Dr Costello co-founded BiomeBank and coordinates the South Australian FMT service.
Dr Rob Bryant
Co-founder of BiomeBank
Dr Bryant is Head of Inflammatory Bowel Disease at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide. After a Clinical Fellowship in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford (2013), he completed a Master of Science by Research (MScR) at the University of Oxford in the field of genetics and mucosal immunology in IBD (2015). He thereafter completed a PhD at the University of Adelaide in the area of treatment targets in IBD. He has multiple peer-reviewed publications in international journals and been an invited speaker at both Australian and international conferences.
Dr Lisa Dann
Head of Laboratory Development
Dr Dann is the Head of Laboratory Development for BiomeBank where she helps to establish and manage the BiomeBank laboratory, optimise processing methods and be involved in gut microbiome research. Dr Dann is a microbiologist who has worked extensively within the university research sector as well as for industry. She completed her PhD in microbial ecology at Flinders University (2015), where she worked alongside the CSIRO Land and Water Division to investigate the distribution of bacterial and viral communities within the Murray River. Following on from this, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher (2015-2019) at Flinders University where she researched the invasive behaviours of microbial communities from marine, freshwater and human sources. Lisa also works as an analytical microbiologist (2015-present) in an industrial setting, where she established and manages a microbiological laboratory that works on quality control and disinfection methods for product compliance.
A Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) has proven to be life changing for patients with Clostridium difficile (C-diff) infection and Ulcerative Colitis.
People like Stephanee Hermsen (pictured), who from the age of 16 years old was in and out of hospital facing debilitating health problems – first with kidney reflux which required a kidney transplant, followed by C-diff which saw her in constant pain with chronic bowel issues. Stephanee was eventually referred to gastroenterologist Dr Costello and underwent a stool transplant in December 2016, becoming the first Australian patient to have both a kidney and faecal transplant. The transplant was successful and Stephanee, remarkably, felt back to normal the next day!
You can read Stephanee’s story and others below:
16 January 2019: The Advertiser article (subscriber content only):
Faecal transplants can treat bowel disease ulcerative colitis(research article in JAMA)
20 May 2018: The Advertiser article (subscriber content only):
Fecal transplant can stop deadly C.Diff infection – if you can stomach it
21 March 2018: THRF website: Getting to the bottom of gut health
6 June 2017: SBS Insight “Gut Feeling” program.
Additional story: Turning to faecal transplants to treat symptoms of debilitating gastroparesis
5 July 2016: Dignity Party transcript from ABC 891 radio interview:
Dr Sam Costello interview on faecal microbiota transplant services
How does a Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) work?
Stool donated by healthy donors is processed by mixing the stool with saline and glycerine. This takes place within a sealed vacuum and oxygen deplete container which replicates the conditions of the bowel and ensures the best gut bacteria remain viable.
A minus 80 degree freezer then stores the processed stool until needed. A dry ice courier transports it to hospital where it can be thawed out and used as required. The FMT is given via colonoscopy or enema into the patient’s large bowel.
Who makes a good stool donor?
Essentially we look for healthy individuals without medical problems and who are not on medication. Unfortunately this excludes people with some conditions, such as diabetes or obesity.
Our screening process involves a medical questionnaire and examination to ensure there are not any active medical problems. A blood test and stool test is also undertaken to screen for disease. If everything comes up clear, we can then use your stool.
Do you pay for stool donations?
A small $25 reimbursement is given to stool donors.
Is there a huge need for this service?
Australia has some of the highest rates of chronic bowel conditions in the world. Inflammatory bowel disease affects about one in 250 Australians.
The importance of gut health is also increasing in awareness in the community. Advancing knowledge regarding the role that gut bacteria play in a wider range of conditions affecting everyday Australians is critical, with the ultimate aim of developing new bacterial therapies.
What is Clostridium difficile infection (C-diff)?
People with C-diff often get the infection after taking antibiotics as they have a reduced diversity of bacteria in their gut. It is an organism that can overgrow in the large bowel of patients when their own gut bacteria are depleted. Some patients may experience diarrhea, blood in their stool and dehydration, while others can develop severe bowel inflammation that can result in death or toxic shock necessitating surgical removal of the large bowel.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease of the large intestine (colon), causing ulceration and inflammation of the lining of the colon. Common symptoms include bloody diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis is a long-term, chronic condition, which can flare up, on and off, throughout life.
Get in touch with us for any further details.