University of Minnesota startup to treat challenging bacterial infection

A live biological preparation developed by University of Minnesota researchers could put a stop to an increasingly prevalent, and sometimes deadly, infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile. CIPAC Limited, based in Australia with subsidiaries in California, will continue to work with the university to advance the technology to treat patients by using frozen and, eventually, encapsulated preparations.

C. difficile affects several million people and is linked to 14,000 deaths per year in the United States, according to the . Symptoms of C. difficile infection include fever, nausea, and diarrhea, and most often occur following a prescribed course of . The antibiotics kill normal that live in the colon, thereby making the patient more susceptible to infections such as C. difficile.

Paradoxically, while the cause of C. difficile infection is exposure to antibiotics, the infection itself is also treated using antibiotics, which can make things worse. C. difficile infections typically affect in hospitals or in long-term care facilities, but is increasingly spreading into the wider community. In recent years it has become more frequent, more severe and more difficult to treat. Patients suffering from the infection require costly care -- researchers suggest it costs $2,500-7,000 to treat each patient suffering from C. difficile.(1)

"C. difficile can be suppressed with antibiotics, which have the unfortunate side effect of killing off the normal colon bacteria that offer protection against infection," says Alexander Khoruts, M.D., co-inventor and associate professor of medicine within the university's division of Gastroenterology, and Nutrition.

"Antibiotics don't work very well because they only suppress the C. difficile. Once you remove the antibiotic, it produces more of the infection," says Michael Sadowsky, co-inventor and McKnight University professor in the Biotechnology Institute and department of Soil, Water, and Climate.

The invention, a bacterial preparation, can enable restoration of normal bacteria in the colon.

"We are very excited to be working with the University of Minnesota in commercializing a treatment that has approximately 95% efficacy," says Geoff Rosenhain, founder of CIPAC. "Our goal is to bring to market a safe, natural and effective alternative to current treatment options, and to restore the wellbeing of patients suffering from debilitating C. difficile infections."

CIPAC is working with the FDA to begin clinical trials for the preparation. The technology was licensed exclusively to CIPAC by the university's Office for Technology Commercialization.

More information: (1) Dubberke, Erik R.; Reske, Kimberly Ann; Olsen, Margaret A.; McDonald, Clifford; and Fraser, Victoria J., "Short- and long-term attributable costs of Clostridium difficile-associated disease in nonsurgical inpatients." Clinical Infectious Diseases: An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 46, 4, 497-504. 2008. Paper 8.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

C. difficile and antibiotics not necessarily linked

Oct 07, 2008

The latest study by Dr. Sandra Dial from the Research Institute of the MUHC, McGill University, and Attending Staff in the Intensive Care Unit at the Jewish General Hospital, questions the assumption held by a vast majority ...

The balance shifts

May 27, 2008

The risk of contracting a Clostridium difficile infection following operations for which a "prophylactic" antibiotic is given to prevent infection is 21 times greater now than it was just a decade ago, according to researchers ...

Recommended for you

African leaders to launch $100m Ebola emergency battle plan

2 hours ago

The head of the World Health Organization and presidents of the west African countries suffering the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak were due to meet in Guinea on Friday to launch a $100 million emergency response plan.

Female baby boomers with asthma? You may need help

5 hours ago

Women over the age of 65 face numerous barriers to good health: an increased risk for obesity, greater struggles against poverty and higher rates of asthma with worse health outcomes. An article published in the August issue ...

New guidelines help keep asthma out of 'yellow zone'

5 hours ago

If you have asthma, you may have an asthma action plan with a "stoplight system" to help you recognize and respond to changes and understand when symptoms are getting worse and need more attention. If you're in the green ...

User comments