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British Midlands University Announces Use of Gene Technology to Fight Lethal Hospital Acquired Infection
Date:1/28/2009

University of Nottingham Scientists Leading Major Study into Lethal 'Super' Strains of C.difficile

CHICAGO, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The British Midlands Development Corporation today announced that scientists at The University of Nottingham are leading a major European study to unravel the genetic code of one of the most lethal strains of hospital acquired infections.

The $4.5 million, three-year study will use gene knock-out technology developed in Nottingham to study the function of genes in a 'super' strain of the bacteria Clostridium difficile, to discover why it causes more severe disease, kills more people, is harder to eradicate and more resistant to antibiotics.

It is hoped that the study will lead to better tests to diagnose 'super' strains of C.difficile, more effective treatments and, possibly, even a vaccine to protect against the disease.

Currently, scientists know that the bacteria cause disease by sticking to epithelial cells of the gut lining and releasing two toxins that damage cells leading to the tell-tale symptom of severe diarrhea. However, there is very little known about the ways in which the bacteria operate and why the strain should be more severe than its less virulent cousins.

Leading the study, Professor Nigel Minton in The University of Nottingham's School of Molecular Medical Sciences, said: "These hypervirulent organisms seem to be taking over as the dominant strain in outbreaks and, worryingly, there are only two antibiotics which are still effective against them. There is a very real danger that total resistance may arise, and if that happens then this will become an extremely serious problem.

"The idea behind the study is that we investigate the genomes of the hypervirulent strains and identify their differences to the so-called standard strains. In this way, we should get a clearer picture of the whole range of factor
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SOURCE British Midlands Development Corporation
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