UK scientists are leading a European study to reveal the genetic code of a particularly dangerous bacteria responsible for many hospital-acquired infections.
They are hoping to find out why this variation of Clostridium difficile kills more people and is more resistant to antibiotics than others.
At stake is a possible vaccine, but at the very least they are hoping that the research will lead to better tests and treatments.
It is already known that the organism causes disease by releasing two toxins that damage epithelial cells of the gut lining. But why C difficile should be so much more severe than other similar bacteria remains a mystery.
Leading the study, Professor Nigel Minton of the University of Nottingham’s School of Molecular Medical Sciences said: “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 factors involved in its spread and the way in which it causes disease.”
An understanding of the basic biology of C difficile and MRSA has been aided by research breakthroughs at Nottingham’s Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections.
Copyright Press Association 2009