Trial launched in region to investigate treatment for deadly bug

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A TREATMENT for a potentially-deadly bug could move a step closer in a new £2.1m trial being launched in Yorkshire.

Experts will examine new ways to treat Clostridium difficile which can trigger serious infections in vulnerable people, claiming as many as one in 10 lives of those affected.

In a collaboration involving Leeds University, Public Health England and private company MicroPharm, tests will be performed to find out if injections of polyclonal antibodies, which can rapidly neutralise toxins produced by bacteria in the body, can be used to treat severe infections.

Strains of the bacterium produce more than 30 variants of two different toxins but all will be targeted by the treatment.

Prof Mark Wilcox, of Leeds University, who is the lead on C.diff infection at Public Health England, said: “This is a very exciting collaboration between both public and private organisations, which is producing some very fruitful and interesting work. C. difficile infection can cause devastating disease, which may be very debilitating for patients.

“Treatment options for severe infections are very limited, and so it would be a real breakthrough to make a new option available for such cases.”

Seshadri Vasan, senior business development manager for research and innovation at Public Health England, said: “This project has the potential to contribute significantly to patient outcomes and to address the critical healthcare needs of especially vulnerable people.”

The work will begin in 2015 and is being funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency.