Superbug treatment identified

The University of Leicester has played a key role in the identification of new viruses, which could be used to treat a hospital superbug.

Scientist explains C Diff breakthrough developments

Scientists at the University of Leicester say they have made a breakthrough in treating the hospital superbug C Diff.

They have identified bacteria-busting viruses which destroy strains of the superbug. Researchers now hope to produce virus-loaded capsules for patients exposed to C Diff.

Dr Martha Clokie from the university explains that the research is not quite ready yet, but progress is being made.

Leicester University applauded for 'superbug' treatment

The President of an American biosciences company has applauded the University of Leicester for its work into ground-breaking identification of new treatment for infectious hospital bugs.

Phil Young, from AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation, also commented on his excitement at working with Dr Martha Clokie, the lead scientist at the university.

We are very excited about this partnership with Dr Clokie and the University of Leicester. Phage-based therapy has the potential to revolutionise the way C diff infections are treated in the clinic, in compliance with the regulatory frameworks already in place. We firmly believe that this collaboration may result in a treatment that could benefit patients, clinicians and health-care organisations alike.

– Phil Young, CEO and President of AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation

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Goal is to create pill which kills superbug

The lead scientist in research to identify viruses that can combat an infectious bug in hospitals has said the current goal for the project is to create a pill or capsule, to deliver the antibiotic alternative directly into patients.

Dr Martha Clokie from the University of Leicester has been part of research into the viruses that fight against suberbug, Clostridium difficile.

She believes capsules containing the bacteriophages would be the best way to attack the illness.

C diff bacteria primarily affect our digestive system… C diff infections can cause severe diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration. Collectively, these symptoms can prove life-threatening, particularly in elderly patients.

(Traditional antibiotics)... are routinely used to treat C diff infections in the UK, but resistance to both is rapidly increasing. What is worse, in addition to killing the C diff bacteria, these antibiotics also destroy the 'good' gut bacteria, in turn increasing the potential for relapse or new infections. Consequently, C diff infections pose a substantial healthcare burden for the NHS and a significant drain on its resources.

The key advantage of using phages over antibiotics lies in their specificity. A phage will infect and kill only a specific strain/species of bacteria.

– Dr Martha Clokie, University of Leicester

Leicester university plays key role in 'superbug' treatment

The University of Leicester has played a key role in the identification of new viruses, which could be used to treat a hospital superbug.

The antibiotic alternative could be used to cleanse hospitals of Clostridium difficile, or ‘C diff’.

The new superbug treatment could be in the form of capsules Credit: Alice Mikyna/DPA/Press Association Images

Scientists at the university have isolated a family of the viruses that target bacteria (bacteriophages), which are specifically geared towards destroying ‘C diff’ strains.

Laboratory tests have shown that these “phages” are effective against 90% of bugs responsible for hospital infections.

The work has been mainly funded by the Medical Research Council, and has been done alongside scientists from the University of Glasgow and US company AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation.

So far, around 40 viruses targeting ‘C diff‘ strains have been identified, which are the subject of a patent by the University of Leicester.