For years, treatments for the HCAI C. diff have been targeting the wrong aspect of the bacteria, according to scientists.
Research, published online in the journal Nature, identified two illness-inducing toxins within the spore-forming bug.
Outbreaks of C. diff which sweep through hospitals in the UK and around the world result in severe diarrhoea - leading to dehydration that can be lethal to the very sick or elderly.
A study by Hines VA Hospital in the US looking at strains of the bug engineered by scientists in Australia found that previous treatments were concentrating on the wrong toxin released by the bug.
Professor Dale Gerding, from Hines, said: ‘For 20 years, we have been focusing on Toxin A. But it turns out the real culprit is Toxin B.
‘This is a major finding in how C. diff causes disease in humans. It completely flips our whole concept of what the important toxin is with this disease.’
Loyola University Chicago`s Dr Stuart Johnson, who co-authored the report, added: ‘It turns out that in the strain in which Toxin A was knocked out, the organism was fully virulent. It caused disease. When they knocked the Toxin B out in another set of experiments, the organism didn’t cause disease.’
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