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Non-Toxic Version of C. Difficile May Help Fight Infection

Drinking safe strain seems to help prevent recurrence of its toxic cousin

WEDNESDAY, May 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers may have found a new way to combat Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection: a friendly version of the culprit bacteria itself. Their findings were published in the May 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings are based on 173 patients with a C. difficile infection that was successfully treated with an antibiotic. The patients were randomly assigned to four groups: three that received different doses of an oral liquid formulation containing nontoxigenic C. difficile strain M3 (NTCD-M3), and one that was given a placebo.

Of 125 patients who received the therapy, only 11 percent had a recurrent infection within six weeks. And a subgroup given a relatively higher dose of NTCD-M3 fared even better: Only two of 43 patients (5 percent) experienced another infection. In contrast, 31 percent of patients given a placebo drug had a recurrent infection. As for safety, patients on the therapy had headaches more often than the placebo group. But there was no evidence of serious risks, the researchers noted.

The company that was developing the treatment and funded the current study -- ViroPharma -- was recently bought by another firm. So the future of the C. difficile therapy is up in the air, lead researcher Dale Gerding, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, told HealthDay.

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