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Killer-bug could outstrip MRSA in Irish hospitals

Research findings on a bug which is a major threat to hospital patients and particularly elderly patients, which could outstrip MRSA, will be presented to the Irish Society for Immunology (ISI) Annual Conference at Dublin City University.

The symptoms from this bug, which is called Clostridium Difficile, range from mild illness to life-threatening colitis. In severely affected patients the inner lining of the colon becomes severely inflamed and sometimes the walls of the colon wear away, causing perforation, which can lead to a life-threatening infection of the abdomen.

“The bug is not as well known as MRSA but in recent years it has been linked to twice as many deaths as the more famous deadly superbug. It is vital that we find out as much about this bug as possible to improve our methods of prevention and treatment of this infection” said Dr Loscher.

Dr Christine Loscher, School of Biotechnology, DCU said “The recent appointments of a number of Immunologists at DCU in both the Schools of Biotechnology and Nursing have added to the existing Immunology research and have allowed the development of this research area over the last few years. This conference is a great opportunity to highlight this research.”

This work is part of a collaborative study with Professor Dermot Kelleher, Consultant Gastroenterologist at St James Hospital and Head of School of Medicine, TCD.

Recent work carried out at DCU has focused on proteins isolated from the coat of the bacteria and identified how they mediate the interaction of this bacteria with the immune system. This research significantly increases our knowledge about how this bacteria initiates infection and subsequent inflammation in the colon. Furthermore, it may provide vital information regarding the susceptibility of certain patients to this infection. Ultimately these recent findings could lead to huge advancements in the prevention and treatment of this infection.

Research will be presented by invited speakers from the US, Europe, UK and Ireland. The research being presented has implications for a wide range of diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and autoimmunity.

Shane Kenny | alfa
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