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October 24th, 2017

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Donating for Dollars | (A) man's new best friend

News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

By News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

Published June 9, 2015

Donating for Dollars |  (A) man's new best friend

Already, healthy people can donate blood, sperm and eggs, but now the nonprofit OpenBiome offers donors $40 for bowel movements -- to supply "fecal transplants" for patients with nasty C. difficile bacterial infections. ("Healthy" contents are transplanted into the infected gut via endoscope or frozen swallowed capsules so that the good bacteria drive out the antibiotic-resistant bad.)

Over 2,000 transplant units have been shipped to 185 hospitals so far, and OpenBiome allows daily "donations" so that, with bonuses, a donor could earn $13,000 a year. However, extensive medical questioning and stool-testing is required, and only about 4 percent of potential donors have exquisite-enough feces to qualify. [Washington Post, 1-29-2015]

California State University Los Angeles researcher Marc Kubasak spent about 2,500 hours (sometimes 12 hours a day) training 40 brain-damaged rats to walk on a treadmill, after sewing little vests to tether the critters, suspended, to a robotic arm.

His work paid off, though, according to the February Popular Science magazine, as doctors in Poland and University College London used his procedures to help a man with a damaged spine.

(In the middle of the project, Kubasak developed a rodent allergy and was forced to wear a body suit every day with a respirator.) [Popular Science, February 2015]

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