C. difficile is an intestinal bacterial pathogen that causes diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon and is responsible for 14,000 American deaths per year. C. difficile infection occurs most commonly in hospitalized patients after use of multiple antibiotics.
The investigators have discovered a single bacterial species, called C. scindens, in the intestinal microbiota that confers resistance against C. difficile. C. scindens produces C. difficile-inhibiting metabolites from host-synthesized bile salts. When given to antibiotic-exposed mice, C. scindens significantly restricted growth of C. difficile in the intestine.
While C. difficile infection can be treated successfully with antibiotics, relapse rates are high and recurrent infections are often resistant to additional antibiotic therapy. Fecal transplantation has proven to be a highly effective treatment, but compositions of fecal transplants are complex, non-standardized, and incompletely defined. Delivery of C. scindens is a simple, specific, and effective treatment method.
In the US, C. difficile-associated disease (CDAD) is responsible for more deaths than all other intestinal infections combined. These cases place a burden on healthcare facilities, annually costing about $3 billion. With roughly 200,000 new cases a year in the US alone, the potential market for a new drug to eradicate C. difficile is estimated to be $200M-$300M.
This technology is currently in pre-clinical development and the investigators expect to initiate a clinical trial in the next 12 months.
PCT Application filed
Buffie CG et al., Nature. 2015 Jan 8;517(7533):205-8
Eric Pamer, MD, Head, Division of General Medicine; Chief, Infectious Diseases Service; and Enid A. Haupt Chair in Clinical Investigation, Memorial Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering