Researchers develop 'smart antibiotics' to combat C. diff

Researchers at State College-based Pennsylvania State University  and Tucson-based University of Arizona are developing smart antibiotics, which can target genes belonging to Clostridium difficile bacteria, according to a study published in The Journal of Antibiotics.

Traditional antibiotics wipe out all forms of bacteria, including the good bacteria found in patients' stomachs, which can help fight C. diff infections.

For the study, Arun Sharma, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology at the Penn State College of Medicine and David Stewart, MD, associate professor of surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, created new forms of antibiotics, called antisense treatments in a laboratory setting. These "smart antibiotics" work in a completely different manner than other antibiotics currently in use.

"Our antisense antibiotics contain genetic material, which is complementary to bacterial genetic material, so we designed our genetic material to target specific genes in C. difficile," Dr. Stewart told Futurity. "And when our genetic material binds to the bacterial genetic material, it prevents the expression of bacterial genes. And that can cause C. difficile to die."

Researchers plan to conduct further studies to refine the antibiotic in preparation for animal testing.

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