First, a health warning: anyone eating breakfast should skip to the sports section.
In January of this year a group of doctors in Amsterdam published a study using 'friendly bacteria' in the most extreme way possible. They were treating a group of patients with an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile (C.diff) - which grows when your normal bowel bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics. It can cause severe diarrhoea and even death.
Ironically the treatment of C.diff infections is usually another strong course of antibiotics, but instead the Dutch group used the ultimate probiotic: a faecal transplantation.That's right: they took donor faeces from healthy volunteers (screened for every imaginable disease) and infused it via a tube into the patients' small intestines. The treatment was so effective that the trial was stopped early. It was a small trial, and not without flaws, but it should prompt research in an area of medicine where we are only just beginning to understand our ignorance: the bacteria living inside us.