What makes fecal transplants so interesting to medical professionals is that they appear to work—producing a 90 percent cure rate, according to experts. But as they begin to take greater hold, concerns are rising about the dangers of a potential black market for the treatment.
"Our biggest concern is the commercialization of fecal transplants and selling them for thousands of dollars," said Dr. Zain Kassam, chief medical officer for OpenBiome, a nonprofit group that provides hospitals with screened fecal matter for clinical use.
"That could lead to a black market where people are doing this for themselves," said Kassam.
Black marketeers and do-it-yourselfers may not be able to handle the process safely themselves because it's inherently dangerous to inject toxic waste from one person into another person.
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One private company that hopes to provide the next generation of fecal transplant medication is taking on the business opportunity.
"We're a drug company, and we see this as a way to open new markets," said Lee Jones, CEO of Rebiotix, a biotech firm started in 2011 and funded by angel investors.
"Black markets are a concern, but more of a minor one," said Jones, who added that there are about 10 other companies like hers developing fecal treatments.