Stanford University researchers have found that the non-antibiotic drug ebeselen is effective in treating Clostridium difficile, a potentially lethal antibiotic-resistant “superbug,” in mice. C. difficile is an opportunistic bacteria that infects people whose gut bacteria have been eliminated by antibiotic drugs. Out of the estimated half million people infected each year in the U.S., about 29,000 die.
C. difficile infection is treated with antibiotics, which wipe out the naturally-occurring bacteria in the patient’s intestinal tract and contribute to the drug resistance of the infection. Once the protective bacteria are eliminated, C. difficile is able to take over the patient’s system, which can cause diarrhea and colitis. Doctors sometimes treat patients by transplanting healthy fecal matter into patients to restore the natural bacteria.
In the study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the antioxidant stroke treatment ebeselen was found to block the bacterial toxins that cause inflammation and colon damage. Human studies are still needed to figure out the potential toxicity of the compound, and to establish a proper treatment regimen. Other organizations are also studying non-antibiotic C. difficile treatment. Merck & Co. announced last week that its antibody treatment cut the risk of reinfection by half in clinical studies. Other companies are developing vaccines to combat the infection.
Read more here – “Non-Antibiotic Drug Shows Promise in Deadly C. Difficile Infections,” (Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters).