Sign with a drawing of poo on it

Lesson idea: Design a poster for poo transplants

Design a poster for poo transplants

Early trials of poo transplants, also known as faecal microbiota transplants, have shown that they can drastically improve the health of patients with serious gut infections, such as Clostridium difficile.

The scientists involved have asked you to come up with a product name and poster to raise awareness of this new therapy. Use the questions and background information below to help you get started.

Product name

Think of some of your favourite brands – what do their names make you think of or feel? What are their names based on?

Now, think about a possible brand name for faecal microbiota transplants. What would you want the name to conjure up? Is it something to do with the benefits of the treatment? Is it a witty name, based on a play on words? Is it an aspirational name, to inspire people to try this new treatment? Do you want to pick a name that sounds particularly scientific or medical?

Poster

Once you have a brand name, think about the kind of information potential patients might want to know about faecal microbiota transplants, and how you might provide it on the poster.

  • What claims can you make about the safety of the therapy?
  • What claims can you make about how well it works?
  • What conditions might it be used for?
  • How might it be performed? What colours and styles of lettering might you choose?
  • What imagery would you want? You can try these places for ideas: Mosaic historical gallery about faecal transplantssearch for these images and more at Wellcome Images; a Google Images search to get an idea of other images you might want (just type a search term into the box).

Sketch out your ideas on paper or using a design program on your computer.

Background information

Mosaic, which is also published by the Wellcome Trust, published a long story on this (read the full story).

Key quotes include:

  • The first known record of faecal transplants dates back to fourth-century China, when a doctor named Ge Hong included several mentions in his ambitious collection of therapeutic formulas, Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (in English, variously translated as Prescriptions Behind the Elbow for Emergency or Handy Therapy for Emergencies). Ge dutifully described how to treat patients with food poisoning or severe diarrhoea by feeding them a faecal suspension bluntly named “solution of stool”.
  • After the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, performed its first faecal microbiota transplant in 2011, a patient who had been bed-ridden for weeks left the hospital 24 hours later. And in 2013, researchers in the Netherlands halted a landmark C. diff. clinical trial early for ethical reasons when they saw that the overall cure rate of 94 per cent with donor faeces had far outpaced the 31 per cent cured with the antibiotic vancomycin.
  • By the beginning of April 2014, nearly 30 faecal transplant clinical trials were underway around the world. Roughly half were aimed at C. diff., including two testing the therapy in combination with vancomycin, and another multi-centre trial evaluating the effectiveness of fresh versus frozen donor poo.
  • At least a dozen trials are now investigating whether faecal transplants can help treat some form of inflammatory bowel disease, be it Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Another is looking into type 2 diabetes, and one is even using lean donors to test faecal transplants on patients with metabolic syndrome. Researchers say it won’t be along before they’re joined by studies investigating whether the therapy might aid diseases like multiple sclerosis and autism.

For information on techniques, see Mosaic’s article on ‘Six ways to transplant poo’.

What’s your version? We’d love to see your finished posters. Share them with us by emailing bigpicture@wellcome.ac.uk 

Lead image:

Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr CC BY NC

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Immune System’ in January 2015.

Topics:
Health, infection and disease, Medicine, Immunology
Issue:
Immune System
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development