Medicine: new weapon against hospital superbug


INNOVATION -The hospital "superbug" Clostridium difficile could soon have new enemy to contend with. Thuricin CD is a new antibiotic agent that can specifically target the dangerous bacterium, and it has just been licensed to Alimentary Health, a spin-out company from the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in Cork.

C. difficile, a hospital-acquired infection, infects the gut and can cause symptoms ranging from mild diarrhoea to life-threatening conditions. In Ireland, between July 2008 and June 2009 there were 2,359 reported cases of the infection in healthcare settings.

The new agent, Thuricin CD, manages the trick of killing C. difficile but not the beneficial bacteria in the intestines, and it was discovered by scientists at the APC, a Science Foundation Ireland-funded research centre based in University College Cork and Teagasc.

Produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, Thuricin CD is active against strains of C. difficile that are most commonly associated with serious human disease, according to an APC release.