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C difficile vaccine trial hopes


A toxoid-based approach to finding a vaccine for the hospital-acquired infection Clostridium difficile is beginning to show promise.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-aventis, is sponsoring a phase II clinical study of their non-antibiotic attempt to tackle this increasingly dangerous infection.

It has been spurred on by the emergence of a hyper-virulent strain in 2002 that is reportedly costing Europe and the US more than £4.9 billion a year to treat.

This latest UK trial draws on Sanofi’s experience in developing its licensed vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

While the trial involves patients who are already infected, the target for the vaccine is primary to prevent infection in the first place.

Barry Cookson at the Laboratory of Healthcare Associated Infections, Centre for Infections and Health Protection Agency notes that current treatment includes the use of one of two antibiotics.

He says: “Non-antibiotic approaches are badly needed, since the alteration of the gut flora associated with antibiotics is what triggers the infection.

“Vaccination has the potential to be a very effective strategy to combat gastrointestinal pathologies caused by C difficile, along with better antibiotic stewardship and infection control practices.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

Sanofi Pasteur

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