For the past few years, fears among doctors have been rising as drug-resistant bacteria continue to flourish and medicines to treat their infections become less and less effective, but a new study out of Australia gives us reason for optimism.
Clostridium difficile infections: Racing against Resistance
A Flinders University scientist has developed a new antibiotic that has been shown to be very effective in treating Clostridium difficile infections (CDI), a bacterial infection that affects the large intestine. CDI is potentially fatal and is most common in people who have to take antibiotics over an extended period of time and is especially prevalent in the elderly population.
An adjunct research associate at Flinders University and CEO of Boulos & Cooper Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Ramiz Boulos, highlights the risk posed by CDI as a drug-resistant bacteria: “cases of CDI disease are rising and the strains are becoming more lethal. If there is an imbalance in your intestines it can begin to grow and release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines which leads to symptoms," he says.
What’s worse, new strains of C. difficile have sprung up over the past decade, and have led to several serious and severe outbreaks around the world. Hospitals are especially vulnerable to one particular strain that is passed easily from one person to another and has affected many US and European hospitals in recent years.
“It's concerning when you consider CDI is one of the most common infections acquired during hospital visits in the Western hemisphere,” says Boulos, “and the most likely cause of diarrhea for patients and staff in hospitals.”
Ramizol: The Newest Weapon Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria?
In a recent study, a lethal dose of C. Difficile was given to hamsters, who were then given Ramizol to fight off the infection. In a positive turn, a significant number of hamsters were able to fight off the CDI and survived.
Further, a safety study was conducted on rats that showed positive results. In total, 48 rats were given high doses of Ramizol over a 14 day period and that repeated exposure to the drug caused no serious side effects and did not affect the weight of the rats.
“We are pleased with these results for two reasons. Firstly, we were able to give the rats a very high dose without mortalities or side effects. Additionally, there were no changes in mean body weight, weight gain, food consumption or food efficiency for male and female rats attributable to Ramizol," Boulos says.
"We believe Ramizol has the potential to be the standard of care for treating CDI and has the potential to be a blockbuster drug. Our research indicates Ramizol is an extremely well-tolerated antibiotic in rats with good microbiology and antioxidant properties," he concluded. "It also has high chemical stability and is scalable because of the low cost of manufacturing, which could make it a viable treatment option.”