Could ‘Zoo Poo’ Help Treat Foot Ulcers?

Researchers from the University of Sheffield, UK, have found that viruses found in the poo of endangered animals could be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers. If successful it could save the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) £1 billion a year.

Naturally occurring viruses in the poo – known as bacteriophage or phages – could be included in dressings applied to untreatable ulcers with further research. Phage therapy was first discovered in the early 20th century.

Phages target and kill bacteria, in some cases when antibiotics don’t work.

Led by Professor Graham Stafford, the researchers used poo from various animals, including Guinea baboons, lemurs and Visayan pigs. He said: “The faecal matter of endangered species could hold the key to killing infectious bacteria that are otherwise resistant to antibiotics and we are working hard to turn faecal matter into viable treatments for patients whose next option is the loss of a toe, foot or leg”. “Importantly, the treatment could also help reduce costs of about £1 billion per year to the NHS,” Prof Stafford said.