May 2023 Newsletter

May 30, 2023
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Mark your calendars for our annual fall fundraising event, Growing Hope, on Thursday, September 14th! For our third year, we will be back at the stunning grounds at the Winery at Sovereign Estates in Waconia, Minnesota. Guests will enjoy a relaxing evening including award winning wines produced at Sovereign Estates, delicious food pairings and ambient live jazz music. Stay tuned for additional details and registration!Interested in marketing your business while providing life saving health treatments to patients? Consider partnering with ACT as a corporate sponsor of our fall event. Your investment provides microbiota treatments to patients and advances medicine through ground breaking clinical trials targeting conditions including Ulcerative Colitis, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, Diverticulitis and more. Please reach out to us at for more information.


ACT joined forces again this spring with our Denver based, Run for Nana team for Colfax Marathon weekend. Emily Haller lost her Nana to her battle with C. difficile in 2015 and has been courageously running to support life-saving C. difficile treatments through restoring gut microbe communities overrun with C. difficile bacteria and the toxins they produce. You can support our Run for Nana team as they continue to give hope and healing to patients and families struggling with this life-threatening illness that infects nearly half a million patients in the United States each year. Meet and support our 2023 Run for Nana team at


As Minnesota’s extended winter finally relents, it’s the perfect time to dust off your running shoes and hit the trails! ACT is returning for our 5th year as a Charity Partner of the Twin Cities Marathon on October 1st. Our race team is recruiting runners to join us this fall, with openings on both our marathon and 10-mile race teams. Historically, the 10-mile race lottery sells out, however you can guarantee your entry by joining ACT’s charity team. Race entries are limited, so register today to snag your spot! ACT race team details and registration are available at:


Christian Johnson joined the ACT board of directors in February. ACT Founder, Peter Westerhaus shared, “Christian brings new thought and energy to the team and is personally connected to ACT’s mission.” Christie Lansdowne, ACT Executive Director added, “Christian has a passion and dedication to save lives through microbiota restoration, stemming from his own health struggles, and is a valuable addition to the ACT team.”


“I’ve been with Mortenson Construction for over four years now, currently as a Financial Analyst. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was a freshman in high school. Although it was a scary and confusing time, I really didn’t know the severity of my condition until I had a bowel resection two summers later. Even though the surgery derailed my entire junior summer and fall and brought with it some mental battles, it was also one of the best decisions I, with the support of my family, made. I’m happy to say I’ve been in “remission” for some time, I say that in quotes because I still deal with the disease, treatment and its symptoms on a daily basis. Looking back to when I was first diagnosed, I am really proud of the way I can now manage these symptoms and live a normal, active lifestyle. I started getting involved in Crohn’s foundations with my parents and built a strong connection with Jon and Peter Westerhaus. I still remember Peter reaching out to me and dropping off movies and games when I was going through a major Crohn’s flare. Through my experience with the disease, other foundation involvement and solid relationship with the Westerhaus family, I was happy to join the Achieving Cures Together Board.”


Director of the University of Minnesota Microbiota Therapeutics Program

The core missions of the UMN Microbiota Therapeutics Program are to: Drive science forward to help future patients and help as many patients as we can today.

The gut microbiome is an exciting frontier in medicine. Unfortunately, there is a lot of hype and snake oil salesmen trying to capitalize on the excitement. Real discoveries require painstaking, grinding research. Nature does not volunteer easy answers. Therefore, we are building a network of collaborators across the US to work together.

During 2022 we formed a partnership with OpenBiome to conduct a multi-center clinical trial across the US using microbiota transplants to treat C. difficile infections. Our program manufactures microbiota transplant products, and OpenBiome distributes them and captures outcome data. Together, we treated roughly 1,400 C. difficile patients in 2022, and we continue to treat several hundred people per month.

There are now two FDA-approved FMT-based products on the market. Their development certainly benefited a great deal from our openly published scientific work. However, we are concerned that the cost of these products will be prohibitive for many patients – one is $9,000 and the other is $17,500 per treatment dose. Therefore, we feel it is important that a non-profit option remains viable. We are working with the FDA to ensure availability of this treatment option for all patients in need. Importantly, we feel this therapy is still quite novel and there are many nuances that require continued research. For example, we have learned that there are important patient populations that are more difficult to cure, including the elderly and patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. The outcome data we are collecting will help to develop optimized and individualized protocols of treatment.

We also initiated a trial that examines two different diets post microbiota transplant to treat C. difficile infections. While the transplant provides the inoculum of gut microbes, proper nutrition is required to feed these microbes and maintain gut health. Most of our patients ask about their diet, but there remains a dearth of actual science to provide the answers. For the moment, we offer the same old advice that is based on basic principles: more plant-based foods, less processed foods, less red meat; fermented foods may also be good because their nutritional value is preserved and uncontaminated with chemicals. However, we need systematic data to provide evidence-based recommendations.

Outside of C. difficile research, we have exiting news emerging in Ulcerative Colitis, where our pilot trial of microbiota transplant therapy has shown superiority over placebo. The data are still being analyzed, but the early results are being presented in May at the Digestive Disease Week in Chicago, the world’s largest digestive disease conference.


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