Fecal microbiota transplantation is an effective treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection and is being investigated as a treatment for other microbiota-associated diseases. To facilitate these activities, an international public stool bank has been created, which screens donors and processes stools in a standardized manner. The goal of this research is to use mathematical modeling and analysis to optimize screening and donor management at the stool bank.
Compared to the current policy of screening active donors every 60 days before releasing their quarantined stools for sale, costs can be reduced by 10.3 % by increasing the screening frequency to every 36 days. In addition, the stool production rate varies widely across donors, and using donor-specific screening, where higher producers are screened more frequently, also reduces costs, as does introducing an interim (i.e., between consecutive regular tests) stool test for just rotavirus and C. difficile. We also derive a donor release (i.e., into the system) policy that allows the supply to approximately match an exponentially increasing deterministic demand.
More frequent screening, interim screening for rotavirus and C. difficile, and donor-specific screening, where higher stool producers are screened more frequently, are all cost-reducing measures. If screening costs decrease in the future (e.g., as a result of bringing screening in house), a bottleneck for implementing some of these recommendations may be the reluctance of donors to undergo serum screening more frequently than monthly.