A research group led by Professor Nigel Minton in the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections (CHAI), with Dr Peter Mullany at University College, London have been awarded over £1.6m for one of the country’s largest studies into C.difficile (C. diff). The work funded by the Medical Research Council, follows a scientific breakthrough by CHAI microbiologists that is set to revolutionise the genetic analysis of Clostridium difficile and its close relatives.
Until now scientists have understood very little about the biology of C-diff. With funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Morvus Technology Ltd, Professor Nigel Minton and his team have developed the ClosTron “knock out” system which can target specific genes in C. diff and other clostridial species. For the very first time scientists have an extremely rapid and effective way of identifying and deactivating the toxins and other factors that cause the disease and can begin the search for new therapies to prevent or cure it.
Professor Minton said: “Although we have the entire genetic blueprint of C.diff, and have an inkling as to what bacterial factors might be important in disease, we have been unable to test these ideas. You never really know what a particular factor is doing until it isn’t there. You need to be able to inactivate, ‘knock-out’, the gene responsible, and then see if the bacterium can still cause disease. Until now ‘knocking out’ genes has been very difficult to do. Our breakthrough ClosTron technology now makes gene knock-out very quick and easy. Once we know what factors are important we should be able to develop methods of preventing C.diff causing disease”.
As well as knocking out genes the ClosTron technology can be used to insert them. Professor Minton hopes this will improve their chances of; (i) developing new anti-cancer treatments that are delivered by the spores of harmless clostridial species that target the cancer tissue; (ii) more effectively controlling the food borne bacterium C. botulinum, and (iii) improving the efficiency of the production of the biofuel butanol by C. acetobutylicum using metabolic engineering.
Official figures show that 5000 people die from a healthcare-associated infection every year in the UK and tackling the super bugs costs the NHS £1bn a year. 1 in 12 of us will pick up an infection during a stay in hospital. There’s a 1 in 77 chance of contracting MRSA and a 1 in 50 chance of developing C. diff.
CHAI brings together some of the country’s leading experts in the field of healthcare associated infections. They are about to apply for part of a £16.5m fund set up by the UK Clinical Research Collaborations’ Translational Infection Research Initiative which has acknowledged a lack of funding for research in the field of microbiology and infectious diseases.
As antibiotics become increasingly ineffective in the fight against C.diff and MRSA scientists at CHAI are working on ways of incapacitating the bacteria and leaving the immune system to deal with the infection. This will reduce the selection pressure for antibiotic resistance that arises from the use of traditional antibiotics.
Professor Richard James, Director of CHAI said: “We intend to apply for £5m over the next five years to increase the critical mass of researchers drawn from nine schools at The University of Nottingham who give CHAI its unique breadth of expertise. This funding will be used to investigate an integrated programme of action in hospitals that can reduce the incidence of infections, for new diagnostic tests to rapidly identify C. diff or MRSA and to develop novel antibiotics in order to treat these infections. The success of this research will be judged by both improved patient outcomes and savings to the NHS in the costs of treating infections”.
CHAI was officially launched in December last year as a national research centre to lead the way in the fight against killer super bugs. Its patron is Actress and TV personality Leslie Ash, who almost died and was left virtually paralysed after contracting MSSA, a strain related to MRSA, in a London hospital.
The work carried out by The University of Nottingham in healthcare associated disease will feature on BBC Radio 4 at 9pm on Wednesday 4th July and 11th July when presenter Dr Mark Porter tackles the issue of multi-drug resistance. The two part programme called “Rise of Resistance” features Professor Richard James, Professor Nigel Minton and Professor Paul Williams who will discuss the difficulties related to drug resistance and to their own research and how that might be useful in the future.
Emma Thorne | alfa
Enduring cold temperatures alters fat cell epigenetics
19.04.2018 | University of Tokyo
Full of hot air and proud of it
18.04.2018 | University of Pittsburgh
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy