The 3 million euro, three-year study will use gene knock-out technology developed in Nottingham to study the function of genes in a ‘super’ strain of the bacteria Clostridium difficile to discover why it causes more severe disease, kills more people, is harder to eradicate and more resistant to antibiotics.
It is hoped that the HYPERDIFF study, which involves partners from the UK, Slovenia, Italy, France, The Netherlands and Germany and is funded with a grant from the European Community, will lead to better tests to diagnose ‘super’ strains of C.difficile, more effective treatments and, possibly, even a vaccine to protect against the disease.
Since the turn of the new millennium there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of C.difficile. Currently the most frequently occurring healthcare associated infection, last year it killed more than seven times as many people in the UK as MRSA. Reasons for this increase may include improvements in reporting procedures, the increasing age of the population as the elderly are especially vulnerable, lower standards of hygiene and overcrowding on hospital wards.
However, a further significant factor has been the arrival in Europe of so-called ‘hypervirulent’ strains such as ribotype 027, which are responsible for more severe disease and are more difficult to treat.
Currently, scientists know that the bacteria cause disease by sticking to epithelial cells of the gut lining and releasing two toxins that damage cells leading to the tell-tale symptom of severe diarrhoea. However, there is very little known about the ways in which the bacteria operate and why the strain should be more severe than its less virulent cousins.
Leading the study, Professor Nigel Minton in The University of Nottingham’s School of Molecular Medical Sciences, said: “These hypervirulent organisms seem to be taking over as the dominant strain in outbreaks and, worryingly, there are only two antibiotics which are still effective against them. There is a very real danger that total resistance may arise, and if that happens then this will become an extremely serious problem.
“The idea behind the study is that we investigate the genomes of the hypervirulent strains and identify their differences to the so-called standard strains. In this way, we should get a clearer picture of the whole range of factors involved in its spread and the way in which it causes disease.”
During the three-year study, scientists at Nottingham will use a technology called ClosTron to produce mutant versions of the hypervirulent strains. They will knock out genes one by one and then compare the mutant version to the standard organism to assess the function of each cell.
The project will also investigate whether pets and other domesticated animals are carriers of the bacteria and what effect this may have had on the rise of C.difficile as a community acquired infection.
Emma Thorne | alfa
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences