Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor) Feb 8 2020
The Clostridium difficile pathogen takes its name from the French word for "difficult." A bacterium that is known to cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening colon damage, C. difficile is part of a growing epidemic of concern for the elderly and patients on antibiotics.
Outbreaks of C. difficile -infected cases have progressively increased in Western countries, with 29,000 reported deaths per year in the United States alone.
Now, biologists at the University of California San Diego are drawing parallels from newly developed models of the common fruit fly to help lay the foundation for novel therapies to fight the pathogen's spread. Their report is published in the journal iScience .
C. difficile infections pose a serious risk to hospitalized patients. This research opens a new avenue for understanding how this pathogen gains an advantage over other beneficial bacteria in the human microbiome through its production of toxic factors. Such knowledge could aid in devising strategies to contain this pathogen and reduce the great suffering it causes." Ethan Bier, distinguished professor in the Division of Biological Sciences and science director of the UC San Diego unit of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS)
As with most bacterial pathogens, C. difficile secretes toxins that enter host cells, disrupt key signaling pathways and weaken the host's normal defense mechanisms. The most potent strains of C. difficile unleash a two-component toxin that triggers a string of complex cellular responses, culminating in the formation of long membrane protrusions that allow the bacteria to attach more effectively to host cells. Related Stories
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