Non-toxic version of bacteria could help treat hospital-acquired infections

As hospitals struggle with the increasingly formidable challenge of antibiotic-resistant infections, a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association offers one possible solution to combat a particularly dangerous superbug, Clostridium difficile. C. diff infections have reached record highs in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an April study indicated hospitals still fall short on antibiotic stewardship measures that could help control the life-threatening bacteria's spread. While certain antibiotics can successfully treat patients with C. diff infections, researchers led by Dale Gerding, M.D., of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, followed up this step by giving patients a non-toxic strain of the bacteria in hopes that it would cancel out the toxic version. The results were encouraging--only 11 percent of patients treated with a particular dose of the non-toxic bacteria experienced a recurrence of their infection, while 30 percent of those who received a placebo treatment had a recurrence. The findings of the study echo previous research that indicates probiotics found in yogurt could be used to reduce C. diff infections. Study