Clostridium difficile is a health problem that affects hundreds of thousands of patients and costs $10 billion to $20 billion every year in North America. Researchers from the University of Calgary and the National Research Council of Canada and colleagues say they are gaining a deeper understanding of this disease and are closer to developing a novel treatment using antibodies from llamas. "We have found that relatively simple antibodies can interfere with the disease-causing toxins from C. difficile," said paper co-author Dr. Kenneth Ng, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Calgary and principal investigator of the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Carbohydrate Science. "This discovery moves us a step closer to understanding how to neutralize the toxins and to create novel treatments for the disease." His research is part of a paper published in the March 18, 2011 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Approximately two percent of all patients admitted to hospital may be infected by C. difficile, which thrives when healthy bacteria in the gut are weakened by antibiotics, thus allowing spores from Clostridium to germinate and colonize the large intestine. "This research is significant because C. difficile is an increasing heath care problem and many people may experience multiple infections," said Dr. Glen Armstrong, head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. "The current treatments are becoming less effective and C. difficile is developing resistance to conventional antibiotics. This research promises to provide a much-needed alternate treatment option that will overcome the failings of conventional antibiotics." C.
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