Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Escherichia coli bacteria (green) taken from the small intestine of a child. E. coli are rod-shaped bacteria that are part of the normal flora of the human gut. Stephanie Schuller/Science Source hide caption

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Stephanie Schuller/Science Source

An overgrowth of Clostridium difficile bacteria can inflame the colon with a life-threatening infection. Dr. David Phillips/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited hide caption

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Dr. David Phillips/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea, can be difficult to treat with antibiotics. Stefan Hyman/University of Leicester hide caption

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Stefan Hyman/University of Leicester

Billie Iverson, 86, of Cranston, R.I., recently underwent a transplant of intestinal microbes that likely saved her life. Ryan T. Conaty for NPR hide caption

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Ryan T. Conaty for NPR

Microbe Transplants Treat Some Diseases That Drugs Can't Fix

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Microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe invented the Robogut, a mechanical device that mimics conditions in the human colon. Courtesy of thestar.com hide caption

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Courtesy of thestar.com