Irish scientists discover antidote for killer hospital superbug

Hospital ward: Belfast City Hospital

Scientists at University College Cork, Teagasc and the University of Alberta in Canada have identified a new antibiotic that is effective against the hospital-acquired superbug, Clostridium difficile.

C. difficile and MRSA collectively referred to as superbugs are types of bacteria which have mutated to become resistant to antibiotics. Both illnesses can be a major risk to the very young, elderly and patients who are recovering from major surgery. 

C. difficile infections arise as a direct result of disturbing gut bacteria following antibiotic treatment. The groups of scientists have identified a new antibiotic thuricin CD. The new antimicrobial peptide could reduce the risk of disease recurrence compared with that of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment because it spares the normal gut flora that helps limit C. difficile growth.

The complete study, published as two papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, involved the combined efforts of a team of scientists and students from Ireland and Canada.

The superbug has caused the closure of several hospital wards throughout Ireland in the recent years and has been the cause of several deaths.

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