Waging war on the deadliest superbug

It infiltrates hospitals as microscopic spores. Its defences are so strong it can resist most antibiotics. And it kills three times as many people every year as MRSA. But scientists at The University of Nottingham are amassing an arsenal of weapons in preparation for counter offensive against the most deadly of hospital superbugs.

A research group led by Professor Nigel Minton in the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections (CHAI), with Dr Peter Mullany at University College, London have been awarded over 1.6m for one of the countrys largest studies into C.difficile (C. diff). The work funded by the Medical Research Council, follows a scientific breakthrough by CHAI microbiologists that is set to revolutionise the genetic analysis of Clostridium difficile and its close relatives.

Until now scientists have understood very little about the biology of C-diff. With funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Morvus Technology Ltd, Professor Nigel Minton and his team have developed the ClosTron knock out system which can target specific genes in C. diff and other clostridial species. For the very first time scientists have an extremely rapid and effective way of identifying and deactivating the toxins and other factors that cause the disease and can begin the search for new therapies to prevent or cure it.

Professor Minton said: Although we have the entire genetic blueprint of C.diff, and have an inkling as to what bacterial factors might be important in disease, we have been unable to test these ideas. You never really know what a particular factor is doing until it isnt there. You need to be able to inactivate, knock-out, the gene responsible, and then see if the bacterium can still cause disease. Until now knocking out genes has been very difficult to do. Our breakthrough ClosTron technology now makes gene knock-out very quick and easy. Once we know what factors are important we should

Contact: Professor Richard James
University of Nottingham

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